Dog owners across the United States are being attacked by the sudden emergence of a nasty threat to their beloved pets, and authorities are trying to get the situation under control as soon as possible. Authorities in Texas have discovered a potentially deadly type of dog flu that has been seen in other U.S. states as well, and this “canine influenza” has infected two dogs in the state, based on a report from the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.
The disease is called H3N2 and it has also been seen in dogs in Florida and Georgia. The disease is highly contagious, so infected animals must be immediately quarantined to avoid risking other animals. Symptoms such as lethargy, nasal discharge, high fever, and loss of appetite are common in 80 percent of dogs, and the disease has killed two dogs in North Carolina. Fortunately, it has a low fatality rate of less than 10 percent.
“Canine influenza virus (CIV), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus,” Texas A&M says in a fact sheet. “In the U.S., canine influenza has been caused by two influenza strains. The first strain reported in the United States, beginning in 2004, was an H3N8 influenza A virus. This strain is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza, and it is thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine strain.
“In 2015, an outbreak that started in Chicago was caused by a separate strain, H3N2. This strain was almost
genetically identical to an H3N2 strain previously reported only in Asia – specifically, Korea, China and
Thailand. 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.”
However, scientists are working hard to combat the disease. The University of Rochester Medical Center published a statement detailing a new vaccine for dogs against canine influenza.