Canine influenza, also known as Canine Flu is a relatively new virus. The first strain, H3N8, originated from a horse flu virus and was identified about 15 years ago. After the initial outbreaks, the virus often caused mild illness, but a new strain, H3N2, has proven to be much more contagious and powerful. This strain was first identified in a massive outbreak in Chicago in 2015. A recent outbreak in Florida has now been spreading through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and there has been a suspected case in North Alabama.
The signs of Canine Flu can range from mild upper respiratory signs to severe illness. Some dogs experience mild coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge and it may be mistaken for common kennel cough. Some dogs however can become very ill, with high fevers, pneumonia, and these patients can require extensive hospitalization and treatment. Unfortunately there have been fatal cases as well.
Canine Flu can be spread in many different ways:
– infected dogs coughing and sneezing near other dogs
– the virus can live up to 48 hours on objects
– the virus can live 24 hours on clothing
– the virus can live 12 hours on hand/body parts
To prevent the spread of this disease and protect your pets, there is a vaccine available that covers both strains of Canine Flu. Healthy pets should be vaccinated and any pets showing potential signs should be kept away from other dogs and brought the vet immediately. It is also important to note that this virus is specific to dogs, and this is not a virus contagious to people or other household pets.