Viruses hit Hillsborough Animal Services - WFLA News Channel 8

Viruses hit Hillsborough Animal Services

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Hillsborough County's animal shelter stopped taking in dogs Monday because its staff members discovered two new types of flu-like virus impacting the pet population.  Cat intake will resume Tuesday, since the virus does not impact felines.

"The important part of those results is that it means that the virus is here in our community," said Ian Hallett, Director of Hillsborough Co. Animal Services. "These viruses are not born in the shelter, they come in from the outside."

New testing at Cornell University revealed two new strains of the coronavirus and pneumovirus in about half a dozen dogs.  Those dogs are now in isolation.  The remainder of the dogs in the shelter will be in quarantine for two weeks.  Shelter staff won't accept any new those dogs, except those that are considered dangerous dogs, sick or injured, and dogs that have bitten somebody.

"One of the most important things that we can do is not introduce new viruses, new animals with the virus into the shelter," Hallett said. "If you have found a lost dog - you could help the shelter greatly by hanging on to that dog and posting flyers in your neighborhood, contacting neighborhood associations."

Pneumovirus can be especially serious for dogs.

"It can turn into pneumonia," said Dr. Lisa Tipton, the shelter's veterinarian. "It can be life-threatening although that's more likely to happen in a shelter dog than it is in an individually-owned dog. Shelter animals, just because of the nature of shelters are under more stress than a dog that's at home."

Still, she recommends that owners who see flu-like symptoms in their dogs take them to the vet and also keep them away from other dogs.

"We haven't seen deaths in the community from this," Hallett said. "But we had this really neat opportunity to find out exactly what viruses we had and when saw two new ones - we just wanted the community, including our veterinarians, to be aware that we've identified this virus in the Florida area."

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