Canine influenza or Dog Flu is a type of respiratory disease in dogs that is contagious band caused by Type A influenza viruses. Canine influenza only affects dogs and so far there have not been any reported cases of canine influenza affecting human beings. There are two types of viruses that cause canine influenza: H3N8 and H3N2. Although canine influenza has not been reported to affect human populations yet, viruses change constantly and with time, it could affect human beings as well. This is why it is crucial to prevent the spread of the virus even among dogs or attempt to eradicate it all together.
The CDC and other organizations are closely monitoring canine influenza viruses even though they currently pose a low threat to the human population. The following are some of the things you can do to control the spread of the canine influenza virus.
How does canine influenza spread?
Almost every dog is susceptible to dog flu infection. Once a dog is infected, the illness can spread to other dogs playing in the same park or houses in the same kennels and shelters. The manifestation of the virus varies from one dog to another with very few cases of death from the flu. Some dogs do not show any symptoms of the infection. The virus spreads through contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions such as coughing and sneezing from the infected dogs. Uninfected dogs can also get the virus from contact with contaminated objects.
Keeping the spread of canine influenza under control:
- If your dog shows any signs of illness such as coughing, sneezing, restlessness or fatigue, you should notify the day care or kennel where your dog usually stays. You should also inform your vet. These symptoms could be caused by a number of factors but just as you wouldn’t want your healthy dog exposed to ill dogs; it is advisable to inform the dog shelter or day care.
- Good infection control practices involve cleaning any materials that may be contaminated and cause further spread of the disease. You should clean and disinfect your hands after handling a dog that shows signs of any respiratory disease. You can also prevent transmission to the other dogs by cleaning any clothing or toys used by the dogs.
- Vaccinations can prevent the spread of the disease to susceptible dogs. H3N8 canine influenza vaccine has been available since 2009 while the H3N2 vaccine was released in late 2015. Vaccination against canine influenza is generally based on the risk of exposure.