Canine flu strain reaches Georgia

Published 9:16 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A new strain of Canine Influenza, H3N2, has been spreading throughout the Midwestern states and has now arrived in Georgia, according to a press release from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The strain was first recognized in the U.S. in an outbreak in Chicago earlier in 2015.

A recent check with local veterinarians Dr. Cliff Bailey of Family Animal Clinic and Dr. Eddie Hight of Bryan and Hight Animal Hospital, finds no cases have been seen here as yet.

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Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a highly contagious infection caused by an influenza A subtype H3N8 virus first discovered in 2004. According to Hight, this is a new and different strain from the H1N1 influenza strain that infected dogs locally a few years ago. Many dogs at that time were given flu vaccine for that particular strain.

At this time, local veterinarians do not know of a vaccine for this particular strain.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has issued some information for dog owners to better understand the virus and ways to control it.

“What we need to know is that humans can physically transmit the virus, which can stay on our clothes for up to 24 hours, so it is important to be careful about interacting with any unknown dogs,” AVMA spokesperson Dr. Aspros sais.  “With proper education, we can do out best to minimize the spread.”

The most common symptom in the mild form is a cough that persists for two to three weeks. However, some dogs can develop signs of severe pneumonia with high-grade fever and faster breathing. Other signs in infected dogs include nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, fatigue and refusing food. All dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection.

It is spread from dog to dog through the air, contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people interacting with infected and uninfected dogs. On surfaces, the virus is alive and can infect dogs for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours.

Although in May 2009 the USDA approved the first influenza vaccine for dogs against the H3N8/CIV, there is currently no known U.S. commercial vaccine for the H3N2 strain.
Dog owners should check with their veterinarians for further information.