Several pet owners have recently inquired about reports of an outbreak of canine influenza virus in the Midwest. This new strain of canine influenza A, H3N2, has been isolated from infected dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio. H3N2 was originally found in dogs from southern China and South Korea and is thought to have made its way into the United States by the import of dogs into the Midwest. A dog infected with the virus may be asymptomatic or show signs of fever, anorexia, lethargy, nasal discharge, and coughing that may persist up to three weeks. More severe cases may progress to pneumonia and, in some cases, death. At this time, no cases have been identified in New York State.
Transmission occurs from dog to dog, and, as with other strains of influenza, poses a higher risk in areas where dogs congregate, such as kennels, shelters, doggie day care, and dog runs. The onset of clinical signs occur within 2-3 days after infection, with a peak in viral shedding in 3-4 days post-exposure. The virus in not transmissible to humans but cats, ferrets and possibly guinea pigs, may become infected.
The H3N2 virus is distinct from the H3N8 canine influenza virus originally identified in 2004, for which there is an available vaccine. At this time, it is not known whether the vaccine developed for H3N8 virus confers protection to dogs exposed to the H3N2 strain. Dogs at higher risk, such as dogs that routinely go to dog parks or boarding, may benefit from being vaccinated.
Please contact your veterinarian if your dog has a cough, is at a higher risk of exposure, or if you plan to travel with your dog to the Midwest. Contact us today with any questions you may have.