Dog flu found in Florida for first time
Veterinarians have uncovered seven cases of dog flu in Florida two years after the potentially fatal disease swept through about 10 states, Florida health officials said.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the cases of H3N2 canine influenza were found at the University of Florida, which listed another six pending cases of the disease.
The “highly contagious” virus infected about 1,000 dogs in Chicago in 2015, with positive diagnoses occurring in a number of other states. Officials said it’s the first time the disease has been found in Florida.
The dogs are reported in stable condition.
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine reported there is no evidence the disease can infect humans, but it can spread to cats. It exists in the animal’s respiratory tract, causing coughing, sneezing, fever and life-threatening pneumonia. Most dogs are treated at home, although the disease sometimes requires hospitalization.
The disease can result in death.
Dog flu can spread by direct or indirect contact with humans or places already contaminated by the disease. Dogs most at risk are those around other dogs at dog parks, grooming parlors and veterinary clinics. Most dogs aren’t immune to the disease, although a vaccination exists.
The disease is so easily spreadable that UF advises those who suspect their pet has the disease to not take their dog into a veterinarian waiting room. Instead, the dog should enter through a separate entrance and the entire area should be disinfected before another animal enters.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the disease is an avian flu virus that adapted and spread to dogs. It was first detected in South Korea in 2007 before making its way to the United States in 2015.
Symptoms and Types of Canine Influenza
Dogs that are infected with the canine influenza virus may develop two different syndromes:
Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. Occasionally, it will be more of a dry cough. In most cases, the symptoms will last 10 to 30 days and usually will go away on its own.
Severe – Generally, these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and develop signs very quickly. Pneumonia, specifically hemorrhagic pneumonia, can develop. The influenza virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, so the dog may cough up blood and have trouble breathing if there is bleeding into the alveoli (air sacs). Patients may also be infected with bacterial pneumonia, which can further complicate the situation.
General signs of these syndromes include:
Red and/or runny eyes and runny nose may be seen in some dogs. In most cases, there is a history of contact with other dogs that carried the virus.
Diagnosing the Dog Flu
Besides a physical, the veterinarian will want to perform a complete blood count and clinical chemistry on the dog. Usually, increases are seen in the white blood cells, specifically the neutrophils, a white blood cell that is destructive to microorganisms. X-rays (radiographs) can be taken of the dog’s lungs to characterize the type of pneumonia.
Another diagnostic tool called a bronchoscope can be used to see the trachea and larger bronchi. Cell samples can also be collected by conducting a bronchial wash or a bronchoalveolar lavage. These samples will typically have large amounts of neutrophils and may contain bacteria.
Detecting the virus itself is very difficult and is usually not recommended. There is a blood (serological) test that can support a canine influenza diagnosis. In most cases, a blood sample is taken after initial symptoms develop and then again two to three weeks later.
Health and Wellness Associates