State health officials reported on the first confirmed cases of H3N2 canine influenza virus, or “dog flu” Tuesday. The University of Florida has confirmed seven cases with six additional cases pending. All dogs being treated are in stable condition.
While H3N2 has been circulating throughout the country since 2015, where it has it has already infected thousands of dogs in more than 30 states. This is the first time it has been confirmed in Florida. Fortunately, the mortality rate is low.
Canine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. Common symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, and frequent coughing that can last for 2 weeks or more. Many dogs have a fever, decreased appetite, and lethargy during the first few days of illness.
Dog flu is a disease of dogs. No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. H3N2 canine influenza has reportedly infected some cats as well as dogs.
Dog owners can have their veterinarians vaccinate their dogs against canine influenza viruses.
If dog owners suspect a case of dog flu, they should call their veterinarian prior to going to the clinic in order to decrease the chances of spreading the virus to other animals at the clinic. Many dogs have a fever, decreased appetite and lethargy during the first few days of illness. Most dogs recover at home without any complications. Some require hospitalization.
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