“Dog Flu” (Canine Influenza)–what you should know:

 History: An H3N8 flu virus was first found in racing greyhounds at a racetrack in Florida in 2004. More recently, an outbreak of a different influenza strain, H3N2, has been reported primarily around the Chicago region. It is believed this strain was introduced by dogs from Asia.

The Virus: Dogs are contagious before symptoms are even noted, and the virus is usually spread for 5 days. This infection is spread by sneezing or coughing. It can be acquired from direct contact with contaminated air or freshly contaminated surfaces.

The new dog flu, H3N2, unlike the previous H3N8, can also cause respiratory illness in cats. Neither virus has been shown to be contagious to humans.

Symptoms: Signs of canine influenza usually show up within 2-5 days of being infected. Symptoms are similar to a bad case of “kennel cough”, and usually include lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge, low grade fever, and persistent dry nonproductive coughing. In rare cases, severe pneumonia, bleeding in the lungs, and even death have occurred. Signs can persist for weeks.

Diagnosis: Virus testing of nasal swabs collected very early in the disease are currently the only method available to diagnose this new condition.

reatment: Supportive care + antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections.

ntion: A vaccine for the new H3N2 flu strain is available but is still undergoing trials. It is still unclear if the vaccine against the older H3N8 strain is effective against the new H3N2 strain.

Avoidance of exposure to potentially affected dogs is the best prevention. This means avoiding dog shows or kennels where dogs from regions of active disease may also be present.

TO OUR KNOWLEDGE, THERE HAVE BEEN NO CASES OF H3N2 DOG FLU IN THE OZARKS REGION, and our staff does NOT recommend vaccination for the majority of our patients at this time due to minimal risk of exposure in this area.

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