LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A relatively new, potentially deadly virus has made its way into Louisville and local veterinarians are encouraging pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated.

Canine influenza, commonly known as dog flu, first surfaced in the early 2000’s among greyhounds. It has, since then, become more prevalent in densely populated areas like Chicago. Dr. Banks Douglass, associate veterinarian at Chenoweth Animal Hospital, said the first case of the virus was reported in Louisville about three months ago.

Since then, there has been 1 death from canine influenza, 3 confirmed cases of the virus and 20 to 30 unconfirmed cases.

The virus is highly contagious; nearly every dog that comes into contact with the virus is infected with the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported.

Symptoms of dog flu include coughing and sneezing that persist in the face of antibiotics and cough suppressants, eye or nasal discharge, fever and lethargy. According to Douglass, 80 percent of dogs infected with the virus show symptoms and 20 percent are unaffected.

“With rest and treatment, it can go away within a short timeframe. The problem with [dog flu] is it can progress into pneumonia and that’s when it gets pretty serious and you can have deaths from that,” explained Douglass. “If it gets to that point it gets very serious.”

Douglass and other local veterinarians are urging dog owners to get their dogs vaccinated for the flu, especially if they frequent dog parks, groomers, day cares, kennels, or any other environment where they are exposed to other dogs. Socially active dogs have a greater risk of infection.

Chenoweth Animal Hospital is among a number of local veterinary clinics offering the dog flu vaccine at a discounted price on Tuesday, June 20.

At Chenoweth, the shot will be administered for $25 instead of the regular price $40. The promotion does not include the booster, which is required three weeks after the initial vaccine to ensure the dog is building up an immunity to the virus.