A New Strain of Canine Influenza Kills Dogs in the Midwest

A new strain of canine influenza has hit the Midwest sickening more than 1,000 dogs.  At first, the outbreak was attributed to Influenza A H3N8, a virus that was first observed in the United States in 2004. But further testing by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Cornell University identified a new virus.  It is similar to the Influenza A H3N2 found in Asia. This new virus has also infected cats. So far, this influenza has not spread to humans.

Clinical signs range from mild malaise to anorexia, coughing, fever and a runny nose. Treatment is supportive as there is currently no cure available. Severely affected dogs and cats are placed in hospital isolation wards and treated with fluids, antibiotics and nebulization. The goal is to prevent a secondary bacterial pneumonia which can be life-threatening.

Since no specific treatment is available for this virus, prevention is the key to protecting both dogs and cats. If you live in the Midwest keep pets away from places where large numbers of animals congregate including dog parks, pet stores, boarding facilities and shelters. Take precautions to avoid accidental transfer of the virus from sick animals to your pets. Disinfect clothing, equipment and hands after interacting with other animals. Unfortunately, the canine flu vaccine that is currently available is for H3N8. It is unknown if vaccination with this product will provide any cross protection for this new virus.

Sources:

-Brooks, Wendy. “Canine Influenza (H3N8)”. The Pet Health Library, VIN, Published 10/24/2005, Reviewed 4/30/2014.

-Schwartz, Joe. “Midwest Canine Influenza outbreak caused by new strain of virus”. Mediarelations.cornell.edu. April 12, 2015.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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