Canine Influenza – What you need to know
There were recently ten confirmed cases of canine influenza in one of our sister cities, Asheville, NC. The story was featured on WLOS Channel 13.
So what is canine influenza and how does one recognize and treat it? The CDC page says:
“Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. These are called “canine influenza viruses.” Dog flu is a disease of dogs. No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. There are two different influenza A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus.”
According to the CDC, there are no records of dogs transmitting canine influenza to humans to date, however, influenza viruses are constantly changing. That considered, the threat to humans is noted as being “small”.
What to look for if you think your dog has contracted canine influenza:
Testing and Treatment Options:
If your dog has developed a cough, schedule an appointment with your vet for an exam. Your vet can perform a test to check for influenza. Per the CDC, “Treatment largely consists of supportive care. This helps the dog mount an immune response. In the milder form of the disease, this care may include medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains well-hydrated. Broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.”
There are two current known strains of canine influenza virus, strain H3N8 and H3N2. There is an approved vaccine for canine influenza A (H3N8), but it is unknown at this time if this vaccine will also protect against the H3N2 strain. (CDC)