By now, most are aware of the outbreaks of canine influenza in parts of the country over the past few years. There have been flu related deaths So, what do we know at this point?
Currently, there are two strains that are responsible for the outbreaks. In 2015, H3N8 affected Chicago and the Midwest while in 2017, H3N2 spread across the southeastern United States. The H3N2 outbreak originated at dog shows in Florida and Georgia in early June and has been spreading to surrounding states including Tennessee and North Carolina. There have been confirmed cases in Texas of the H3N2 strain. But this doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is at an increased risk of coming in contact with this contagious disease.
The clinical signs of canine influenza are general and could be similar to any upper respiratory infection including:
- Nasal/ocular discharge
- Lack of appetite
However, in severe cases, it can develop into a life-threatening pneumonia. The virus is spread through aerosolized respiratory secretions such as coughing, sneezing, or barking. It can also be spread through contaminated surfaces, food and water bowls, or our clothing while moving through populated areas. Thankfully, the virus is not particularly hearty and will only survive outside of a host for up to 48 hours before it is no longer viable. The diagnosis is confirmed by sampling respiratory secretions and isolating the virus in the lab. However, it typically takes several days to get results.
Dogs that are at the most risk of contracting the disease are those already in an area
The big question on everyone’s mind is: “Is my pet at risk for contracting this potentially serious disease?” and “Should we be vaccinating these pets?” As of right now, we have not had any confirmed cases of canine influenza in this area so we are not recommending vaccinating at this time. We are carefully monitoring the spread of the disease should more outbreaks occur and will keep our recommendations up to date with the changes.
As more information becomes available, we will be keeping