In Florida recently a sudden wave of the “dog flu” has struck at least a dozen dogs, reports CBS News. It is suspected that several more canines in central and north Florida are infected.
The strain of dog flu virus has been identified as H3N2. This strain of dog flu is new to Florida, but has existed in the United States since 2015. It was first identified in South Korea.
Canine influenza, commonly known as the dog flu, can cause the dog to sneeze, cough and develop a runny nose, according to the University of Florida. Additional symptoms include fever, decreased appetite, and the appearance of lethargy in the first few days of the illness.
There are two types of strains, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which infect canines: the H3N8 virus, discovered in 2004; and the H3N2 virus, discovered in 2007. There is no evidence to-date suggesting that either of the strains have spread from canines to humans, although the CDC says that the chance of a strain mutating cannot be ruled out.
Thankfully, most dogs recover from the illness within a few weeks, but the University of Florida reports that about 20 percent of canines infected develop pneumonia. The condition can be so severe that it could require veterinary care.
In a report from the University of Florida, all the dogs in Florida who had tested positive for the H3N2 strain had recently attended one of two dog shows in the area, or had exposure to a canine who had attended.
Dogs can catch the flu from exposure to sick pets or simply being in an area where an infected pet has frequented. A dog can spread the virus through coughing which, according to the University of Florida, can travel as far as 20 feet.
Germs may linger on surfaces and until they die, risk contaminating other canines. The University of Florida notes that when a dog plays with an infected dog, contamination is possible. Communal areas such as parks, kennels, day care centers, veterinary clinics and grooming parlors are examples of places where dogs may inevitably share germs, leading to contamination.
It is recommended that if you think your dog has the flu, call your veterinarian to discuss whether your dog needs to undergo a diagnostic test for the virus.