Dog owners in Brooklyn should be aware that there have been several confirmed cases of H3N2 canine influenza.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) explains that “Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus.”
There are two known strains of the influenza A virus in canines: H3N8 and H3N2. The H3N8 strain was first reported in 2004, and is thought to have been a mutation of the equine influenza virus that affects dogs. The H3N2 virus is a much more recent development.
The AVMA explains, “In 2015, an outbreak that started in Chicago was caused by a separate canine influenza virus, H3N2. The strain causing the 2015 outbreak was almost genetically identical to an H3N2 strain previously reported only in Asia—specifically, Korea, China and Thailand. In Asia. This H3N2 strain is believed to have resulted from the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus—possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets—to dogs. Since March 2015, thousands of dogs have been confirmed positive for H3N2 canine influenza across the US.”
Dr. Stephanie Liff, DVM, Medical Director at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in Clinton Hill and Hell's Kitchen, NY, says, “In my office, I have had two suspected cases in two days, with confirmation pending. VERG in Brooklyn said they have several confirmed cases of H3N2 at this time."
Dr. Liff also explains, “It is VERY contagious, especially to unvaccinated dogs. It is spread through nasal secretions, including airborne secretions (coughing/sneezing).”
So how can you keep your dog safe? And what are the symptoms you should look out for?
Dr. Liff says, “Dogs going to day care are most susceptible; young puppies and dogs with concurrent illnesses are most likely to have more severe illness from exposure.” To help minimize your dog’s risk of exposure, you should avoid pet day cares, dog parks and public dog bowls or toys that an infected dog may have access to.
“There is a vaccine available that protects against both strains and is manufactured by Merck,” explains Dr. Liff. The canine influenza vaccine is considered an optional vaccination and is recommended based on your and your dog’s lifestyle. It is best to talk with your veterinarian about whether it is the right choice for your pup.
If you are worried that your dog may have been exposed, here are some of the canine influenza symptoms to look out for:
Loss of appetite
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
It is also important to note, “With H3N2, we believe these dogs can be contagious for up to three weeks,” says Dr. Liff. If your dog has been diagnosed, be sure to keep them away from other dogs and public spaces for that time to help control the spread of the virus, especially considering how extremely contagious it is.
Learn more: Dog Flu: Canine Influenza in Dogs
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