Canine influenza is a contagious viral infection of dogs, caused by Influenza Virus A subtype H3N8.
No—the canine influenza virus is not a mutation of avian influenza, commonly known as Bird Flu. Canine influenza is actually more closely related to the horse or equine influenza virus, and likely mutated from this strain.
The canine influenza virus can cause mild to severe illness.
Mild effects include:
Typically, most infected dogs develop mild to moderate signs that resolve within 10 to 30 days without problems. As with other flu viruses, fatalities can potentially occur, but are not common and are generally due to secondary complications such as bacterial pneumonia.
Canine Flu is currently considered to be an endemic virus, meaning that outbreaks have occurred sporadically in certain areas. Outbreaks in pet dogs have occurred in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, the state of Washington, and Washington, D.C. These cases occurred in animal shelters, rescue groups, pet stores, boarding kennels and veterinary clinics.
The virus is contagious—spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions, meaning, when a dog sneezes or coughs the virus can be spread through the air. The risk of infection in a canine who does not attend dog shows or frequent kennels is fairly low. However, because this is a recently emerged disease, there is no natural or vaccine-induced immunity—so all dogs are susceptible.
The symptoms of canine influenza closely resemble those seen with other respiratory diseases, such as kennel cough. Because of this, kennel cough can potentially be mistaken for canine flu.
While there is currently no reliable rapid test available to veterinarians for diagnosing canine influenza, tests are available at certain diagnostic labs.
To date there is no evidence demonstrating that the Canine Influenza Virus can be spread to humans.
Any dog infected with Canine Flu or as any other respiratory disease should be kept away from other dogs until the illness completely resolves.
Solutions as simple as soap and water are effective disinfectants for eliminating the virus from surfaces. To help reduce the risk of spreading the virus, gloves should be worn when handling infected dogs or cleaning contaminated cages.
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