Those traveling to the Midwest, meeting up with or hosting dogs from that area, should be aware of a serious epidemic of canine influenza that began in the Chicago area and has spread to Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana.
According to researchers at Cornell University, “... results from additional testing indicate that the outbreak is being caused by a virus closely related to Asian strains of influenza A H3N2 viruses, currently in wide circulation in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations since being identified in 2006. There is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans.”
These scientists add that this strain can also cause infection and respiratory illness in cats. Like our lovely friend Sophia.
They don’t know if the current canine influenza vaccine will protect your dog from this strain. If you are traveling to the Midwest or will be in close contact with dogs from this area, you should discuss prevention with your veterinarian. Be aware that vaccination for this disease is a two step process done a couple of weeks apart. So, if you are considering a vaccination, plan accordingly.
You should also know the flu symptoms. Cornell outlined what to look for, “Both Influenza strains can cause high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy. Symptoms may be more severe in cases caused by the H3N2 virus. Some infected dogs may not show symptoms at all.”
The last note about lack of symptoms is important because a dog without symptoms can still be shedding the virus and infecting others. So be careful about those sniffy greetings if you are in a zone with a canine flu outbreak.
Adapted from one of Penny's City Paws newspaper columns.
Words: Penny Cherubino
Photography: © 2014 Penny & Ed Cherubino illustration from istockphone.