A highly contagious strain of canine influenza or dog flu known as H3N2 has now arrived in Texas and is causing great concern among veterinarians and pet owners alike, as reported by NBCDFW5.com. The sick dog is in Beach City, near Houston and came to Texas when its owners moved from Chicago. It has the same kind of dog flu that has already sickened more than a thousand dogs in the Midwest, and some of them have even died, as reported by the Inquisitr. The new development concerns veterinarians at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“It does seem to be very contagious dog-to-dog, much like human flu is pretty contagious person-to-person,” said Dr. Audrey Cook at Texas A & M. A dog could be infected for several days without showing symptoms, which gives the virus time to spread to other dogs and cause an epidemic. That makes dog flu especially worrisome at dog parks, daycares and boarding facilities.
Researchers believe the H3N2 strain mutated from a form of avian flu, as reported by New Dog World.com. Before the Chicago outbreak, the strain had never been seen U.S. Since the disease surfaced in Chicago, it has also spread to Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and now, Texas.
Prior to that, H3N2 had only been found in South Korea, Thailand and China, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to being highly contagious, the current vaccine for dog flu may not be effective against H3N2. There is no vaccine specifically designed to prevent the H3N2 strain, but authorities are urging pet owners to vaccinate for dog flu in any event. The cost of the vaccine is around $100, but the price is far cheaper than treating an infected dog.
“Dogs who were vaccinated for the earlier strain probably don’t have any protection against this new one,” said Dr. Cook.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the major symptoms include the following problems.
- Runny Nose
- Loss of Appetite
Most healthy dogs recover from H3N2 dog flu over time with the help of antibiotics, rest and plenty of fluids. As with the human flu, the biggest concern is for older dogs and dogs with other health issues and weakened immune systems. The CDC says people are not at risk from the H3N2 virus.
There is no word on when a more effective dog flu vaccine might be available. In the meantime, dog owners should talk to their veterinarian about any concerns and be on the lookout for possible symptoms.