What you need to know about the dog flu out­break

GA Voice - - Pets -


As new cases of ca­nine in­fluenza have ap­peared in Ge­or­gia, vet­eri­nar­i­ans are urg­ing vig­i­lance for pet own­ers and pet fos­ters. Sneez­ing, cough­ing and runny nose should now pro­voke a visit to the vet, even if your dog has the typ­i­cal pro­tec­tive vac­cines like Bor­de­tella. This is be­cause a new strain of the virus (preva­lent in the Mid­west) has been found in an At­lanta area board­ing fa­cil­ity.

What is typ­i­cally re­ferred to as “ken­nel cough” can be­come a more se­ri­ous res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion (CDC). Since the con­ta­gious ca­nine in­fluenza virus can live on cloth­ing and on ta­ble and coun­ter­top sur­faces, it is im­por­tant to use hand san­i­tizer and wash clothes.

Here’s what you need to know about ca­nine flu, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

What causes ca­nine flu?

Ca­nine flu is caused by two viruses: In­fluenza A H3N8 and In­fluenza A H3N2. Both only af­fect an­i­mals.

How did the virus start?

The H3N8 strain orig­i­nated in horses be­fore it crossed over to dogs. It has adapted since the first re­ported U.S. case in 2004 and spread among dogs, es­pe­cially those housed in ken­nels and shel­ters. The H3N2 strain is an avian flu virus that’s dif­fer­ent from its hu­man coun­ter­part and found mostly in Asia. In ad­di­tion to dogs, it does af­fect cats, and was first re­ported in the United States (Chicago, Illi­nois) in April 2015. The CDC re­ported the virus strain in At­lanta in May 2015.

What are the symp­toms?

Signs of ca­nine flu are sim­i­lar to flu in hu­mans. The an­i­mals cough, get a runny nose, are lethar­gic, lose ap­petite and have a fever.

How is it spread?

Both the bac­te­rial and vi­ral causes of ca­nine cough are spread through air­borne droplets pro­duced by sneez­ing and cough­ing. Con­tact with con­tam­i­nated sur­faces fur­ther spreads the ca­nine flu.

Can hu­mans get it?

No ev­i­dence has been found of trans­mis­sion from dogs to peo­ple.

Is it safe to take my dog to the park?

The virus is spread among dogs, so as a pre­cau­tion, dog own­ers should avoid con­tact with other dogs in parks and var­i­ous types of shel­ters. Call your lo­cal vet, dog groomer, pet boarder or pet sit­ter to de­ter­mine their ex­po­sure and rec­om­men­da­tions.

Is ca­nine flu the same as ken­nel cough?

Ken­nel cough is so named be­cause the bac­te­ria (Bor­de­tella) or virus (parain­fluenza or ca­nine coro­n­avirus), while treat­able, is con­ta­gious and can spread quickly among dogs in the close quar­ters of a ken­nel or an­i­mal shel­ter.

Is ca­nine flu fa­tal?

Yes and no. While a small per­cent­age of dogs die, oth­ers can get se­verely sick when pneu­mo­nia sets in. Some dogs show no symp­toms at all. In the lat­ter cases, a vet­eri­nar­ian can con­duct a test to de­tect the virus.

How is ca­nine flu treated?

There’s no spe­cific treat­ment be­cause it’s a vi­ral dis­ease, but dogs can get sup­port­ive care to boost im­mu­nity. If a sec­ondary bac­te­rial in­fec­tion is di­ag­nosed, an­tibi­otics can be pre­scribed. A vac­cine is also avail­able in the United States, but only for H3N8. It’s not known whether it can help pre­vent the new­est strain, H3N2, which is caus­ing the latest out­break.

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