MO veterinarians discuss reality of dog flu

MO veterinarians discuss reality of dog flu

(KFVS) - H3N2 is said to be a very contagious virus for dogs, but there has not been a large outbreak in Missouri.

There are two canine influenza, or dog flu; they are categorized by abbreviations H3N8 and H3N2.

"I confirmed with Cornell and they have only had one case in St. Louis and it was from June, 2015. I don't think there is an active outbreak in St. Louis right now," Dr. Jill Lopez is on the H3N2 task force said.

The information on the virus from Lopez was updated on Feb. 2, 2016.

"Please bear in mind that it is not a true reflection of all dogs that have been infected with CIV H3N2 – not all diagnostic labs in the US have submitted samples to the Task Force and not all dogs that are infected are actually tested," Lopez said.

Dr. Lopez said right now the H3N2 task force is seeing a lot of positive cases in Green Bay.

According to Dr. Cynthia McDowell from Cross Point Animal Hospital, H3N8 has been around for more than a decade.

"H3N8 started in this country, in Florida, in 2004," Dr. McDowell said. "H3N2 started in Asia, in 2006…Most recently, H3N2 came to the United States by way of Chicago, last year, in March."

She said H3N2 is a contagious disease that's been around for a while and it hit the U.S. last year.

"H3N2 is the new player on the block...100 percent of dogs that are exposed are infected, 20 percent won't have [any] symptoms, whatsoever," she said. "I think one of the issues is that it's a new disease, it's a new virus, so nobody is immune to it. So, if your dog is exposed, it's infected, 100 percent infection rate. Twenty percent don't show symptoms but they're shedding the virus. The potential for this virus to spread is where the concern comes from, if it's in your area, your dog is going to be exposed."

Multiple veterinary doctors agreed the influenza outbreak started in Chicago.

Richard Antweiler, executive director of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, said there has been a case in St. Louis, but they can't identify them. That case was in 2015.

"If it continues to spread, we will see an upper respiratory infection, kennel cough, that's what it will look like," Antweiler said.

Some symptoms include:

  • Not eating as well
  • Fever
  • Coughing (main symptom)
  • Runny nose
  • Less active

"It's a bigger scare than disease...if and when if it does spread then it's coming our way," Antweiler said.

"The virus is extremely contagious," Dr. McDowell agreed.

The virus is deadly for 10 percent of dogs.

Dr. Tori Landing, a Scott City veterinarian, said they treat dogs with the flu vaccination if they are going across state lines, whether it's to move or travel.

"We also realize that right now there was one confirmed case last year in St. Louis… there have been no more. So, if there is another confirmed case, it's still doesn't mean it's going to spread through St. Louis, and it still doesn't mean it's going to spread through Cape Girardeau. I'm watching, but I'm not worried," Skyview Animal Clinic Dr. Sean Byrd said.

Veterinarians recommend to all of our patients that are traveling are vaccinated.

Dr. McDowell said the H3N2 vaccine has been available since November of 2015.

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