Chicago’s dog flu outbreak is turning out to be even more complex than first suspected. Researchers at Cornell University have discovered that the dogs in the Chicago area being treated for the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) have a different strain of the virus – one that had only been seen in Asia until Chicago’s outbreak.
Until Cornell released their findings on Sunday, the outbreak in Chicago and elsewhere in the Midwest had been attributed to the H3N8 strain of the virus. While that strain had been circulating in the U.S. since 2004, the new virus–H3N2–had only been circulating in Southern China and South Korea prior to this outbreak.
How is this virus different?
According to information provided by Cornell, the symptoms of the H3N2 dog flu can be more severe than the original virus. The other big difference is that the new virus has also caused respiratory illnesses in cats in Asia. All previous forms of the dog flu did not have an effect cats.
What about the vaccine?
As the dog flu has spread throughout Chicago and other areas, it has been highly recommended that dogs get the vaccine that has been effective in past outbreaks. However, since this strain is new to the U.S., it isn’t known if this particular flu shot will be effective against the Asian form or not. This is very similar to the flu shot for humans where it is effective against some strains, but not others.
If your pet has a fever, cough, nasal discharge, sneezing, ocular discharge, lethargy or anorexia, promptly contact your veterinarian. Since the new strain may also affect cats, you should contact your vet if your cat has any of these symptoms.
At VSC, we have taken extra precautions to keep all pets that come through our doors safe. Here is an update on the changes in our protocols because of the dog flu.
The best way to prevent the spread of these viruses is to keep your pets away from other dogs.
Here are some tips we are suggesting as well.