APR 20, 2015 12:18 PM PDT

Dog Flu Outbreak Update

WRITTEN BY: Judy O'Rourke
New laboratory tests show that a strain of canine influenza virus (CIV) associated with more than 1,000 sick dogs throughout the Midwest is virtually identical to an Asian strain of the virus and is not a mutated form.

Initial tests at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (WVDL) and Cornell University recently identified the strain as H3N2, which has previously only been seen in Asia and is different than the H3N8 strain circulating in North America. Genetic sequencing conducted at the National Veterinary Service Laboratory, Ames, Iowa, now confirms that the H3N2 strain found in the Midwest is almost identical to its Asian counterpart and was likely brought to the United States by an infected animal.

"This means there is no evidence of genetic reassortment - it's not a mutation," says Kathy Toohey-Kurth, virology section head at WVDL. "This is good news because mutations are unpredictable, and we would not necessarily know what the safety implications are for humans or other animals."

There is no evidence at this time that the H3N2 CIV strain can infect humans; it is distinctly different from human seasonal influenza H3N2 strains. However, the Asian H3N2 CIV strain has been reported to infect domestic cats.

The virus will live in the environment for 24 to 48 hours in the majority of cases.

"No cats have reported positive in the United States at this time," says Keith Poulsen, WVDL diagnostic and case outreach coordinator and clinical assistant professor, UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM).

Both CIV strains can cause persistent cough, runny nose, and fever. A small percentage of dogs will develop more severe clinical signs, and some will not show any symptoms at all. The infection has been associated with some deaths.

Neither CIV strain is related to the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu; they are completely different strains that affect separate species.

The commercially available vaccines for CIV are made to protect against the H3N8 strain, and their effectiveness against the H3N2 strain is unknown at this time, but it is likely to be less effective.

"We're still recommending that owners vaccinate their dogs because H3N8 is still around," says Sandi Sawchuk, primary care veterinarian at UW Veterinary Care (UWVC) and SVM clinical instructor.

UWVC veterinarians also recommend taking measures to minimize risk to pets, such as limiting direct dog-to-dog contact, washing hands with soap and water, and changing your clothes if you work with or are exposed to sick dogs before handling your own pets at home.

[Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison]
About the Author
  • Judy O'Rourke worked as a newspaper reporter before becoming chief editor of Clinical Lab Products magazine. As a freelance writer today, she is interested in finding the story behind the latest developments in medicine and science, and in learning what lies ahead.
You May Also Like
OCT 23, 2019
Earth & The Environment
OCT 23, 2019
Aggressive spiders fare better after hurricanes
New research published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution details the findings of a study on Anelosimus studiosus, a species of spider which liv...
OCT 23, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 23, 2019
Invasive Tumbleweed Demonstrates the Advantage of Extra Chromosomes
The massive tumbleweed Salsola ryanii was once thought to be going extinct, but it's growing stronger....
OCT 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 23, 2019
Crows Can Be Silent If They Choose to Be
Researchers have long thought that songbirds unleash their colorful vocalizations involuntarily in response to activities happening around them, such as fo...
OCT 23, 2019
Earth & The Environment
OCT 23, 2019
"The Blob" is Back
Five years ago, a phenomenon dubbed “the blob” caused turmoil along the West Coast of the Pacific Ocean. No, it wasn’t an invader from sp...
OCT 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 23, 2019
Younger Wolves Help Their Elders Grab a Bite to Eat
Wolves work together in the wild to ensure the survival of the rest of their pack, and this includes their elders. Whenever one wolf finds food, it will in...
OCT 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 23, 2019
Why Do Camels Have Humps?
Camels are predominantly known for the humps that appear on their backs, and believe it or not, those humps are filled with body fat. Some camels sport jus...
Loading Comments...