General Canine Influenza Information
Influenza viruses are known to infect a number of different species. There are literally hundreds of different strains of the virus in circulation around the globe. In the last decade we have seen the emergence of two strains affecting dogs. The first is known as H3N8 and originated in horses. This virus first emerged in dog populations around 2004, and is currently in circulation among dogs. It is a true canine virus because it has had sustained transmission among dogs. A vaccine has been developed for this strain of influenza.
The more recently diagnosed strains of influenza in the Chicago area have been H3N2 which emerged in dogs around 2008 in Asia, specifically Korea, China and Thailand. It is believed that this virus originated in birds in the live markets of Asia. It is not known how this virus was transported to the US, but it was likely brought here through movement of dogs. The recent outbreak in the Chicago area has received much attention. In this outbreak of H3N2 influenza, dogs have exhibited coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever. Pneumonia has occurred, and less commonly, death. Interestingly, cats are also susceptible to this virus. People may be infected with a different strain of H3N2, but no human cases have been documented with this canine strain of virus. Dogs in kennels and shelter settings are at highest risk for exposure to this virus. It is not known if the H3N8-specific vaccine will also protect against the H3N2 strain, but it is unlikely.
Situations which bring dogs together does increase the risk for exposure, but good infection practices can reduce the risk. The virus is easily killed with disinfectants. Consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations for your pet, and if you have a coughing dog, seek veterinary treatment. There are many causes, both viral and bacterial of a cough in a dog, and your veterinarian is best equipped to determine the cause and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.
Check out the AVMA’s website on canine flu and its management and prevention:
Veterinarian information link
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Diagnostic Services Research and Development
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