Hundreds of dogs are hit with dog flu (canine influenza) over the last couple of years. In a new development, this flu strain has hit Florida for the first time. At least a dozen dogs have been down with the virus according to a report issued by the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine on the 31st of May 2017.
The virus thus affecting the dogs is not a lethal one but can cause the sufferer to develop debilitating complications. The virus is not transferrable to humans from dogs.
A similar large outbreak was seen in Chicago in 2015 eading to hundreds of dogs developing complications from the flu. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) fears a similar escalation of cases in this instance too. They have warned that while the flu itself is mild with easily manageable symptoms, owners need to watch out for its progress to other secondary infections that can affect the dogs while down with this flu. These other infections lead to the debilitating complications the authorities explain.
The virus typically causes canine influenza that leads to symptoms that are similar to those in humans down with flu. This includes a runny nose, cough and rise of temperature or fever along with lethargy and listlessness.
The flu typically reduces the immune strength of the animal leading to life-threatening pneumonia as a secondary infection. The strains of the virus identified are two - the latest being H3N2 virus – which was first detected in the United States in 2015. This was the virus that affected hundreds of canines in Illinois, where it began before it spread to nearby states, aid the AVMA. Of these six of the affected animals succumbed to the infection and its complications.
This time around, at least 12 dogs were diagnosed with canine influenza. This came after these animals attended two dog shows or after they were exposed to infected dogs. The dog shows under question are in the Perry, Georgia held between May 19 and 21 or the Deland, Florida dog show held the following weekend. The affected dogs were either at the show or were exposed to other dogs present at these shows. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the dogs affected are all stable at the moment and under treatment.
However the officials say that the exact number of cases is still to be known. The number of cases usually decline by October as was seen in previous instances. March seems to be a time to be careful.
The officials and virologists warn pet owners to be vigilant regarding contraction of the virus during this time by their dogs. Pet owners can discuss with their veterinarian whether their dogs need to be vaccinated for the virus.
Commonest risk factors that raise the possibility of the infection include dogs that stay at kennels or animal shelters or those that visit grooming salons, dog parks and day cares. These places allow dogs tobe in close quarters with potentially infected dogs.