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Health Alert: Canine Flu

ID-100120In May 2017, canine H3N2 influenza (canine flu) was diagnosed in dogs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, and Illinois.

Here is some important information about canine flu from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious viral infection affecting dogs and also cats. At present, two strains of canine influenza virus have been identified in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2.

Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing. Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places such as kennels, groomers, day care facilities and shelters are at increased risk of infection. CI can be spread indirectly through objects (e.g., kennels, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) or people that have been in contact with infected dogs. It is important to clean and disinfect objects that have been in contact with an infected dog to avoid exposing other dogs to the virus. Likewise, people who have been in contact with an infected dog should wash their hands and clean their clothing to avoid spreading the virus. The virus can remain viable (alive and able to infect) on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.

Virtually all dogs exposed to CIV become infected, with approximately 80% developing clinical signs of disease. The approximately 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs of disease can still shed the virus and spread the infection.

Canine influenza virus causes an acute respiratory infection in dogs. There is no “season” for canine influenza, and infections can occur any time of the year. Canine influenza virus infection often resembles canine infectious tracheobronchitis ("kennel cough"), which is caused by one or more bacterial or viral infections, including Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus.

The majority of infected dogs exhibit the mild form of canine influenza. The most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Affected dogs may have a soft, moist cough or a dry cough similar to that induced by kennel cough.

Veterinary expertise is required to determine treatment options and the best course of treatment.

Image: James Barker, freedigitalphotos.net

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