Public Health Seattle & King County issued this notice today saying they may have identified a new strain of canine influenza in the area that has sickened “more than a thousand dogs” in several other states.
They discovered the strain, H3N2 canine influenza, after dogs at a local boarding and dog daycare facility “began getting sick with respiratory symptoms, primarily cough” last month. They did not name the facility.
This was not a small event. About 80-90 dogs got sick.
They identified the H3N2 strain in 2 dogs that had contact with a sick dog that had been at the facility.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the 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.” The AMVA also noted that since March 2015, “more than 2,000 dogs have been confirmed positive for H3N2 canine influenza across the U.S.”
H3N2 is extremely contagious, and some dogs will show symptoms in as little as 24 hours after infection.
It can spread by direct contact or contaminated objects like hands and clothes. I can also be transmitted through air droplets, which can travel up to 20 feet or more.
The virus can live in the environment for about 2 days and on hands and on clothing for up to 24 hours.
Public Health said dogs are most likely to be exposed to the virus are “at places where dogs congregate such as dog parks/beaches, dog daycare and boarding facilities, grooming facilities, and veterinary clinics.”
The AMVA said symptoms of H3N2 canine flu are:
- soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days
- reduced appetite
- sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose
- thick nasal discharge
If your dog shows any of these symptoms get it to a vet immediately. It’s best to treat the virus in its early stages.
Researchers released a vaccine to treat the H3N2 strain last fall.
Fortunately this flu is generally not deadly. The AMVA says it’s fatal in less than 10% of the dogs that contract it. Fatalities can occur when dogs develop extremely high fevers (104-106 degrees). In these cases, the virus can cause pneumonia which is particularly dangerous to older dogs and dog with compromised immune systems.
You can get more information about H3N2 canine influenza from this notice from Seattle/King County Public Health or dog influenza.com.
I’ll let you know when more information about the H3N2 canine influenza outbreak in Washington when it’s available.