The flu outbreak is not just a human health concern, reports suggest there could be a dog flu outbreak due to the constantly mutating virus. With the raging flu season, experts urge the public to get vaccinated and veterinarians also suggest getting immunity shots for canines to reduce the risk of infection.
Flu activity continues to increase in the United States, and the rapidly spreading viral infection is a concern as the number of flu-related deaths and lost productivity hours increase. As for dogs, several cases of canine influenza in San Francisco caused fear of a large outbreak affecting the canine population.
Flu Season Not In Full Swing
The entire country is reeling after one of the worst flu seasons in the recent years. As reported by Time Magazine, the current hospitalization rate in the United States is 31.5 per 100,000 people. The H3N2 flu virus is likely behind the 30 deaths in children.
The flu outbreak is also proving to be costly to employers. In a statement to Fox Business, Challenger, Gray, & Christmas vice president Andrew Challenger estimates the total cost at $9.4 billion. H3N2 is an aggressive strain, and the average recovery time is four days. With 11 million employees missing eight hours of work during sick days, the cost can reach $9,415,586,823.84.
While the current flu outbreak is alarming, employers should prepare. The peak season for flu is usually around February, so the outbreak might get worse in the upcoming weeks.
Canine Influenza Cases On The Rise
If humans are struggling against the flu virus, the canine population is also susceptible to the dog virus. However, pet owners don’t have to panic since it’s unlikely for dog flu to spread as quickly as the flu virus affecting humans.
#FluFactFriday: Did you know? Over the past 15 flu seasons, this is the 1st time all states in the entire continental U.S. have reported widespread #flu activity during the same week. https://t.co/ycVdIWwWhU pic.twitter.com/6aGtv16C3S— CDC Flu (@CDCFlu) January 19, 2018
In a report by NBC 5, Collin Parrish, a canine virology professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine explained the difference between dog flu and the human flu.
“We don’t have the (dog flu) virus spreading across the country like the human flu, where everyone gets infected. The virus infects dogs in a city and tends to die out over a few months.”
The timing of the dog flu cases in California coincided with the flu season. However, unlike the seasonal flu outbreak affecting people, dog flu happens all year round. Parrish added that there is nothing unusual with the outbreak reported in the Bay area.
American Veterinary Medical Association spokesperson Michael San Filippo cautions pet owners about taking dogs to doggy daycares and dog parks. However, he makes it clear that there is nothing to worry about.
“I do not feel like we are in the midst of a large outbreak that pet owners need to be concerned about.”
Public Urged To Get A Flu Shot
With 32 states experiencing severe flu activity, CDC urges the public to get a flu shot. As reported by Reuters, CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald asks the public “to take every advantage that you can to protect yourself.”
As for canine influenza, the CDC clarified that it is different from the H3N2 flu in humans. Needless to say, pet owners are encouraged to get their pet vaccinated especially if the canine is always exposed to large groups of dogs.