If your dog has become deathly ill lately, it may be due to a disease that is spreading throughout the United States.
Authorities in Texas are scrambling after an outbreak of a potentially deadly type of dog flu that has been spotted in other U.S. states as well. The disease, called canine influenza, has infected two dogs in Texas, according to a report from the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.
Called H3N2, it has also been spotted in Florida and Georgia, and it is highly contagious between animals with most dogs becoming infected if they are exposed to it. The disease causes high fever, loss of appetite, nasal discharge, and lethargy in about 80 percent of dogs. It has resulted in two deaths in North Carolina, although the fatality rate is less than 10 percent.
“Canine influenza virus (CIV), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus,” Texas A&M says in a fact sheet. “In the U.S., canine influenza has been caused by two influenza strains. The first strain reported in the United States, beginning in 2004, was an H3N8 influenza A virus. This strain is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza, and it is thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine strain.
“In 2015, an outbreak that started in Chicago was caused by a separate strain, H3N2. This strain was almost
genetically identical to an H3N2 strain previously reported only in Asia – specifically, Korea, China and
Thailand. This H3N2 strain is believed to have resulted from the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus –
possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets – to dogs.”
But there’s hope. Earlier this year, the University of Rochester Medical Center released a statement on a possible new vaccine for dogs from the disease.