05 June 2017

HEALTH - Canine Flu H3N2 Discovered in Florida

The H3N2 flu virus, which first struck the US in 2015, has spread to Florida with the initial cases discovered in late May.

The dogs testing positive were either at a Perry, Georgia, dog show from May 19 to 21 or the Deland, Florida, dog show the next weekend — or were exposed to dogs that had been at those shows.

University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine officials hope to create “community immunity” and as such are encouraging dog owners to vaccinate their pets to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The more dogs in the community that we can vaccinate and build up community immunity, the better chance we have at keeping this virus out of the community,” Dr. Cynda Crawford, an assistant professor of shelter medicine at the college, said at a press conference.

“It’s all about using vaccines to build a wall, an immune barrier, in the community that will stop the virus from entering. Vaccination is still the primary tool we have.”

The virus was present in about 30 other states before appearing in Florida.

“This is a highly contagious virus to dogs, just like influenza virus is to people,” Crawford said. “There is an eminent threat for dogs to be exposed to this virus in this state now.”

The H3N2 canine influenza virus is an avian flu virus that adapted to infect dogs and is different from human seasonal H3N2 viruses.

Canine influenza H3N2 virus was first detected in dogs in South Korea in 2007.

According to the AVMA, Canine influenza is spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions (via coughing, barking and sneezing) and contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

The signs of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose, and fever, but not all dogs will show signs of illness.

The severity of illness associated with canine flu in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death.

While death is not common, it is important for owners with dogs exhibiting symptoms to seek veterinary treatment to prevent issues like pneumonia.

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