Canine Influenza Facts

June 7th, 2017

• H3N2 Canine Influenza is a contagious influenza virus that infects dogs and can infect cats, but there is no evidence that it can infect people.
• The virus is currently circulating in dogs in Florida and Georgia, and, locally, two dogs in Spring, Texas, have been confirmed positive for the virus after traveling to a dog show in Florida.
• H3N2 Influenza causes a respiratory infection in dogs that involves nasal discharge, fever, frequent coughing, and sneezing. Some dogs have more serious disease and pneumonia that requires hospitalization. Dogs most at risk for exposure are those with a social lifestyle that participate in group events or are housed in communal facilities where H3N2 is circulating. This includes dogs in boarding kennels, day care centers, shelters, dog shows, veterinary clinics, grooming facilities, and dog parks.
• H3N2 is spread by direct contact with a sick dog or by contact with an environment or people that are contaminated with the virus. Coughing dogs can produce saliva mists that can travel 20 or more feet in the air. The virus can survive in the environment for 12-24 hours, and it can be easily killed by handwashing with soap and water and washing food/water bowls with soap and water.
• If your dog has symptoms of a respiratory infection, it may not be H3N2 – there are other respiratory viruses that can cause similar symptoms. The only way to know if it is H3N2 is to perform a specific diagnostic test. Important steps to take if you are concerned about your dog having H3N2:
-Call your veterinarian.
-Describe your dog’s symptoms: when the symptoms started, if your dog has been to a recent dog show, boarding facility, traveled to Florida or Georgia, or been exposed to symptomatic animals.
-Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions.
-Talk with your veterinarian about performing a diagnostic test to determine if your dog has been infected with H3N2.
• Most dogs infected with H3N2 recover at home without any complications. The most important aspect of home care is to keep your dog isolated from all other dogs for 4 weeks. If you have other dogs or cats in the household, all of them must be isolated in the home for 4 weeks. Even if symptoms subside after 2 weeks, the virus can still be shed and they can remain contagious for a full month. Approximately 20% of dogs develop more severe symptoms of disease and can have complications such as pneumonia. Dogs with pneumonia have fever, decreased appetite, experience lethargy, and may have labored breathing. The mortality rate for H3N2 is very low.
• If the virus is present in your community, limit your dog’s risk by staying away from group events such as dog shows, day care, dog parks, or boarding facilities. You can also vaccinate your dog against the canine influenza virus – this may not completely prevent infection, but it can reduce the odds of infection and reduce the severity of symptoms in case of exposure/infection.