Health officials in Michigan are warning dog owners about a strain of canine flu that can potentially be fatal for dogs. In just three weeks, 49 cases have been reported in six counties in the Lower Peninsula.

Last year there were only nine cases reported in Michigan.

According to a release from Bay County Animal Control, The Canine Influenza Virus or CIV originated in Detroit and "has spread north to areas surrounding Flint, and west to the Grand Rapids region." The virus is both dangerous and contagious and nearly 100% of dogs that are exposed will become infected if they're not vaccinated. In some cases, the virus can be deadly.

According to the release, CIV is spread through the air when an infected dog coughs or sneezes and a vulnerable animal breathes in the airborne droplets. It can also be spread by sharing toys, water and food bowls, and other objects.

“Any time dogs come together in groups, there is a risk for disease,” state veterinarian James Averill tells the Detroit News. “It’s important that dog owners work with their veterinarians to protect their dogs.”

Dog owners are encouraged to contact their veterinarians about a vaccine that is said to be safe and provides "partial to complete immunity" against the virus.

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