When was Canine Influenza first diagnosed?
The first documented cases of canine flu occurred in racetrack greyhounds around 2003 and was the H3N8 strain. Since then, canine flu has been confirmed in 39 different states across the country. This strain of flu is believed to have originated from a strain of horse flu within the racetrack industry. The H3N2 strain was discovered in the US in 2015 though it existed in other countries many years prior to this. The mutated strain has spread across the US into 30 different states. This strain of flu is thought to have originated from a type of avian influenza in birds.
What strains of influenza affect dogs? Does it change every year like the human flu?
H3N8 and H3N2. Currently these two strains have been stable and consistently diagnosed without major changes.
How does a dog become infected with flu?
Canine influenza is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, nose-to-nose contact, or shared resources. Flu outbreaks are more common in shelter, boarding, daycare and dog parks due to the high number of dogs coming into contact with each other. It generally takes 2-4 days for a dog to develop signs of flu and they can be actively spreading flu without any signs of illness! After an infection with the H3N2 dogs can shed the virus for up to 24 days after being diagnosed.
What are the clinical signs of canine influenza?
Canine flu is very similar to human flu as it causes a fever, sneezing, coughing, eye discharge, dehydration and lethargy. Flu infection can lead to secondary problems such as pneumonia, sepsis or respiratory distress.
How is flu diagnosed?
Just like in humans- obtaining a nasal or throat swab can be used to test for flu DNA and confirm an infection.
How is Canine Flu treated?
Treatment consists of supportive care to alleviate coughing, fluid therapy to correct dehydration and possibly antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is present.
Is there any way to protect my dog from flu?
Yes! There is a vaccine that significantly the severity of infection against both strains of flu. This vaccine when initially started must be boostered within 2-4 weeks to provide protection. After initial vaccination, the flu vaccine should be given on a yearly basis to at-risk patients.