Every bit the pampered purebred, the fluffy white dog Curry looks, and is, a perfectly healthy puppy.
But a month ago, the bichon frise was among more than 100 dogs just in this area suffering from what turned out to be a new disease: canine influenza virus, or dog flu.
Experts say the flu is spreading steadily through the United States affecting dogs, with no vaccine available to curb it. Perhaps 5 percent of its victims are dying.
Researchers recently found to their surprise that the virus had crossed over from horses to dogs, striking greyhounds at racetracks in 11 U.S. states. Now it has been found in pets in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state.
Cynda Crawford, a veterinary immunologist, said researchers are getting positive readings on 30 percent to 40 percent of the blood and tissue samples sent in by veterinarians who think they might be treating a dog with influenza. The symptoms include a cough, low-grade fever and a runny nose.
Exactly how many dogs have died is unclear. Crawford said many of the animals were young and otherwise healthy. Many pet owners and veterinarians have been fooled because some of the symptoms mimic a common, less dangerous bacterial infection known as kennel cough, AP reports.