Canine Influenza is Here in NC!

2015-07-22


The new strain of Canine Influenza (H3N2) that originally showed up in Chicago earlier this year has now been identified in North Carolina. According to the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association and the NC Department of Agriculture, there have been confirmed cases in Asheville and Lumberton. Additionally, there are at least 200 cases showing signs consistent with canine influenza in the Asheville area. At this point, Lawndale Veterinary Hospital has not seen any suspected or confirmed cases of this new strain. However, we are on high alert and monitoring the situation in our clinic closely.

Here are our current recommendations for dog owners:

  • Avoid settings where your dog(s) will be exposed to other unknown dogs. Canine influenza is a highly contagious pathogen. Outbreaks tend to occur in situations where groups of dogs are kept close together– for example racing tracks, kennels, shelters, dog parks, and dog day care facilities.
  • Since this is a newer virus in the canine population, the majority of dogs do not have immunity. A vaccine is not available for this new H3N2 strain, but a vaccine is available for the H3N8 strain (originally identified in racing greyhounds in Florida in 2004). Lawndale is carrying the H3N8 vaccine for anyone interested. It is unknown whether there is cross-protection.
  • Contact our clinic if your animal has any symptoms consistent with the dog flu. Symptoms are respiratory in nature (coughing, sneezing, nasal/ ocular discharge) and can also include fever, anorexia and lethargy, to name a few. Dogs can develop a mild or a severe form of the illness, and some dogs can even be carriers without showing any signs of illness. The good news is that with supportive care, the majority of dogs will work through the illness and survive.
  • Don’t panic! Symptoms seen with canine influenza can be caused by many other factors besides canine influenza, so the presence of these symptoms does not confirm that canine influenza virus is the cause.
  • No human infections have been reported in association with either of the canine influenza strains. In Asia the H3N2 strain has also caused respiratory illness in cats and there has been 1 confirmed case of H3N2 in a cat in New York.

A variety of informative resources are available on the topic of canine influenza (these sources were also referenced to support the content of this blog). Please refer to the links below for additional information.

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS

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