An unusual canine influenza outbreak is currently sickening dogs in the Chicago area. More than 1,000 cases of infected dogs, including 5 deaths, have been reported so far. What is canine influenza and how can you keep your dog safe? Here are a few facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep in mind.
What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs, but not humans. The canine influenza virus (A H3N8) was originally a horse virus that spread to dogs. It has been found in dogs since only 2004, and experts believe it is being spread in kennels and shelters. In 2005, dog flu was identified as a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population of the U.S., but experts say it poses a low threat to humans.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of dog flu include cough, runny nose, and fever. Severely infected dogs will develop pneumonia. Dog flu is rarely fatal, with about 80% of dogs contracting a mild form of the disease.
How is it spread?
Dog flu can be spread by direct airborne contact with respiratory secretions of infected dogs. Dogs can also become infected by coming into contact with contaminated objects and materials. Infected dogs should be isolated and items such as toys and bowls should be disinfected.
What is the treatment?
There is a test available for canine influenza. There are also approved vaccines. A mildly infected dog is treated mostly through supportive care, such as medication and fluids. Antibiotics may be required for secondary bacterial infections.
See the CDC website for more information.