Dog flu, also known as canine influenza is highly transmittable respiratory disease affecting dogs.
The dog flu is caused by specific Type A influenza viruses infecting dogs.
This type of influenza is known to transmit only among dogs, and it is different from seasonal influenza virus that spread annually between humans. There are two types of a dog flu viruses. The first one is an H3N8 virus, and the later is known as H3N2 virus. Always be sure when it comes to your dog’s health!
Can my dog get the fly and is it transmittable to people?
Generally, the dog flu viruses are considered not to be a threat to people. Globally, a human infection by canine influenza was not reported, but there are cases when influenza viruses change, and it is unlikely but possible to spread easily and transmit to humans. So far, no human infection of animal origin had been reported.
The Discovery of Canine Influenza
Early Cases and Research: The history of canine influenza dates back to the early 2000s. It was first discovered in racing greyhounds in Florida. Veterinarians and researchers began to notice a mysterious respiratory illness affecting the dogs.
Identifying the H3N8 and H3N2 Strains
Subsequent research identified the specific strains of the influenza virus responsible for the outbreak. The H3N8 strain was traced back to equine influenza, while the H3N2 strain had a different origin.
History of type H3N8 canine influenza
Canine virus type H3N8 originates from horses. With time the horses transmitted the virus to dogs which lead now to be spread between dogs. The other name for this type of virus is horse flu, and exists in horses for more than 40 years. For a long time this respiratory disease was not known to exist in dogs till 2004 in the United States.
It is considered that this type of virus (H3N8) was spread from horses to dogs, causing illness in dogs and spread among dogs, mainly in dogs who are living in kennels and shelters.Canine virus type H3N2 originates from birds. This type of influenza was first identified in 2007 in South Korea. It is spread from birds to canines, nowadays making it possible to shed the virus between dogs.
The Impact of Canine Influenza
Outbreaks and Spread: Canine influenza quickly spread among racing greyhounds and other dog populations. The virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through the air, contaminated surfaces, and direct dog-to-dog contact.
How dog flu can transmit?
It can be transmitted when dogs cough, bark or sneeze, releasing droplets and aerosols. When in close contact, particularly dogs housed in kennels or shelters have highest risk of infection.
Firstly, it can be spread indirectly through objects such as water and food bowls, leashes etc.
Secondly, it can be spread is from people who have been in contact with dogs infected with canine influenza.
That is why people who have been in close contact with a dog infected with influenza should wash their hands and keep their clothes clean in order to avoid spreading the virus. The canine influenza can stay alive and able to infect for up to 48 hours on objects and surfaces, and also to remain viable on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
In most of the cases, dogs have shown clinical signs 2 to 3 days after exposure, after an incubation period of 1 to 5 days. Mostly, dogs are contagious during the incubation period, with or without showing clinical signs of the disease. Infected dogs might show respiratory problems between 2-8 days after being exposed to the virus. As we mentioned, some dogs may not show clinical signs of the disease, but they are able to spread the virus.
Symptoms of the dog flu
When infected, the dog flu replicates inside cells in the respiratory tract from the nasal lining to the terminal airways. It causes acute respiratory infection, resulting in rhinitis, bronchitis and bronchiolitis.The majority of infected dogs show some clinical signs, and the most common of them is soft, moist of a dry cough. Other signs of the infection are runny nose, sneezing, lethargy or fever (a mild form of the disease).
Furthermore, there are dogs that exhibit signs of pneumonia and consolidation of the lung lobes. Even though, dogs can recover fast within 2-3 weeks without any additional respiratory problem, there are cases of deaths reported due to the canine influenza. If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, you should contact their veterinarian. He or she will tell you which test is appropriate in order to confirm type H3N8 or type H3N2 canine influenza virus.
Treatment for the dog flu
Helping your dog to have an effective immune response requires an appropriate treatment. In order your dog to maintain hydration let him or she drink a lot of fluids. Consult with your veterinarian about any additional medication for reducing fever, pneumonia or other dog health problems. As a caretaker of your dog is the best to keep their household clean and keep the dog isolated for 4 weeks.
There are vaccines already available for H3N8 and H3N2 type of canine influenza. These vaccines intend to protect the dogs and reduce the risk of contracting the dog flu. Therefore, dog caretakers should consult and ask the veterinarian which vaccine is appropriate for their dog.
Hygiene and Infection Control
Practicing good hygiene and infection control is crucial in preventing the spread of dog flu. Isolating sick dogs, cleaning and disinfecting areas, and practicing good hand hygiene are effective measures.
What We’ve Learned: The discovery and management of canine influenza have provided valuable insights into how respiratory diseases spread in the canine population. It has underscored the importance of early detection and rapid response to potential outbreaks.
The Ongoing Battle Against Dog Flu
The discovery of canine influenza and subsequent research have enhanced our understanding of this contagious disease. While the impact of dog flu can be significant, preventive measures, such as vaccination and good hygiene practices, have improved our ability to manage and control outbreaks. Continued research and vigilance are essential to stay ahead of emerging diseases and protect our canine companions from the impact of canine influenza.
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