The canine influenza outbreak that had affected pet owners in Florida earlier this month has since made its way to several other Southern states. And with Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas health officials recently reporting outbreaks in the area, officials from several states, including Arkansas, are concerned that the state may soon be affected by dog flu with summer now underway.
According to KTHV, there have been two cases of dog flu reported in Louisiana, and additional outbreaks recently reported in Texas and Tennessee. With other U.S. states on “high alert” for potential summer outbreaks, officials have been taking the necessary precautions; for example, the Kennel Club of Texarkana canceled its yearly dog show in an attempt to guard against the possibility of canine influenza spreading at the event.
According to All Pets Animal Hospital veterinarian Chloe Charlton, veterinarians in Arkansas aren’t overly concerned about dog flu outbreaks just yet, but are nonetheless keeping their guard up due to the presence of a new, evolved strain of the disease.
“The H3N8 strain was out several years ago and the H3N2 is a new strain that has evolved,” Charlton explained to KTHV.
“To my knowledge, there was an outbreak in Florida, Georgia, and at dog shows. There have not been any cases in Arkansas of canine influenza yet.”
A separate report from NBC affiliate WYFF suggests that the disease has already reached the Carolinas, though no information on specific locations had been confirmed. So far, the H3N2 dog flu virus is believed to have sickened “thousands” of dogs in over 30 states and infected some cats in shelters as well. There is no proof that humans can be infected by canine influenza.
Similarly, dog owner Lindsey Chaplin told the network that it’s hard to know if a pet is suffering from dog flu and that it’s important that pet owners get their dogs vaccinated as soon as possible.
“If you get behind on shots, you may have to start all over. It could be dangerous to their health. When they’re young you want to make sure you go to every appointment … You never know if they can get it or pass it around. And you can’t tell until it happens.”
Last week, the Inquisitr reported about the new H3N2 canine influenza strain, which was believed to have sickened a total of 13 dogs at that time, with a total of seven confirmed cases. The confirmed cases were traced to Central and North Florida, and officials believed that the dogs had attended a dog show in Perry, Georgia, a few weeks prior, or a similar event in Deland, Florida, in the last weekend of May.
How can you tell if your dog is suffering from canine influenza, specifically the H3N2 strain? According to WYFF, the classical symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, and the so-called “kennel cough” for a period of at least two weeks. While the disease is not supposed fatal, it could lead to complications, including pneumonia, which would require a dog to be hospitalized; WYFF cited a Charlotte Observer report that stated two North Carolina dogs had recently died from a fatal case of dog flu.
The disease is usually deadlier in puppies and very old dogs, and as far as pet owners go, Dr. Travis Davison of the Bluffton Veterinary Hospital believes that spotting canine influenza is similar to spotting the flu in human sufferers.
“It has the potential to be pretty similar to the human flu; typically has respiratory signs with coughing. They can have a fever and feel sluggish and lethargic. We’ve not seen any cases yet but it can be pretty similar to how humans get with the flu.”
The virus that causes dog flu can survive for about one to two days on the surfaces of kennels, dog food, water bowls, crates, toys, and other dog-related items. However, canine influenza can be killed relatively easily by most disinfectants, simple hand washing with soap and water, laundering of a dog’s bedding and clothing, and properly cleaning their water bowls and toys, also with soap and water.
WYFF also mentioned the H3N2 CIV vaccine, which, while unable to prevent dogs from catching canine influenza, could at least reduce their chances of catching the virus that causes it or reduce the disease’s severity and duration as well as risks of complications.
[Featured Image by Igor Normann/Shutterstock]