Headlines of the H3N2 Canine Flu have been making waves in the news. Here’s what you need to know to protect your dog.
Katie, the 13-month-old Highland Terrier who tested positive for H3N2 in Newark, Ohio.
1. Where has it been spreading?
Cases have been confirmed in Alabama, California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa and Indiana, with new cases reported most recently in the Atlanta Area of Georgia, and in Ohio. You can view all the outbreaks mapped out on the Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center’s website. Everyone should look into vaccination and be careful, but you live in the above areas keep an extra watchful eye on your dog.
2. How does transmission occur?
The problem with H3N2 is that it spreads easily from nose to nose (or other direct) contact between dogs. The disease is spreading the same way human ones do – people travel with their dogs who become infected and bring it home with them. Dogs naturally greet each other by smelling one another and that is the most common way for infection to occur. Dogs in kennels, shelters or who must be around other dogs are more susceptible.
Additionally, it is important to note that while humans cannot contract H3N2 from dogs they can spread it from one dog to another, so you should take care to wash your hands thoroughly in hot soapy water for 60 seconds between interacting with different dogs.
3. What are the symptoms?
Nasal discharge, lethargy and loss of appetite, cough, fever. However, not all infected dogs will exhibit symptoms. The range goes from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death. Call your vet if you have any concerns about unusual behavior.
4. Who should be concerned?
All dog owners ought to be wary, but no more so than they should be for any infectious disease that affects their dog. Puppies and younger dogs, as well as senior dogs are at a higher risk and owners should be cautious with them when visiting parks, events and any other public place where many other dogs are.
5. Is there a vaccine?
There is vaccine to protect dogs against canine influenza A H3N8 available in the United States..unfortunately it is unknown at this time whether this vaccine will protect against the H3N2 canine flu virus, but there is a chance that it could.
6. What can dog owners do to protect their pets?
– Try not to panic. Waves of flu outbreaks have happened before and are currently happening in multiple species concurrently.
– High risk dogs, such as those who live in high-epidemic areas (such as Chicago) who absolutely must be boarded or attend doggy-daycare should be vaccinated, just to be on the safe side (even though a vaccine for this specific strain does not yet exist)
– Keep your dog leashed and away from other animals if you are in a high-epidemic area, and avoid contact with animals that appear or are known to be ill.
7. If infected, how can you prevent your dog from spreading the disease?
Dogs infected with CIV should be isolated from others for 10-14 days from when symptoms occur. Unfortunately they are most infectious before symptoms even appear, and continue shedding the virus for around 10 days. This means that when symptoms are noticed they hay have already infected other dogs. If your dog becomes ill, try your best to notify the owners of any dogs your pet might have been near, or the kennel or doggy-daycare they attend, or dog walker who cares for them.
1. USA Today
2. The CDC
3. The AVMA