Here we go again: another outbreak of the canine influenza virus, this time in the southern United States, with four confirmed cases in Knoxville, Tennessee. This highly contagious virus is easily spread from infected dog to other dogs, and in 2016 a group of shelter cats in Indiana was infected by infected dogs. Poor cats! Though most dogs recover within 2 to 3 weeks, some develop secondary bacterial infections which may lead to pneumonia.
Here are some facts about canine influenza virus from the American Veterinary Medical Association:
- The virus is contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs by direct contact, nasal secretions (though barking, coughing or sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.
- Dogs of any breed, age, sex or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.
- Currently, two strains of canine influenza have been identified in the US: H3N8 and H3N2.
- Cats infected with H3N2 show symptoms of upper respiratory illness, including a runny nose, congestion, malaise, lip smacking and excessive salivation.
- Dogs infected with the virus develop a persistent cough and may develop thick nasal discharge and fever (often 104-105°F). Other signs include lethargy, eye discharge and reduced appetite.
- Laboratory tests are available to diagnose both H3N8 and H3N2. (The humans at my animal hospital will send the sample to the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.)
- The annual vaccination is recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs- such as boarding, attending social events with other dogs present, dog parks, grooming facilities, and dog shows.
The Virology Lab at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine has updated information here about their cases of the virus.
The humans at Tri-County Small Animal Hospital offer the vaccine for both strains of the canine influenza virus. Your dog may require a booster vaccine 2 to 4 weeks after the first vaccine.
Any dog showing signs of respiratory disease should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. I may think that dogs are stinky and irritating, but I know it’s no fun to be ill. I need my dog buddies feeling up-to-snuff so I can continue to bug them.
Cuddles and kitty kisses,