Vets: No canine flu here, yet

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 13, 2015

Canine flu has spread into Alabama, but local veterinarians say they haven’t seen any patients with the virus.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), canine influenza, or dog flu, is a highly contagious infection caused by an influenza A (H3N8) strain that was first discovered in 2004.

The H3N8 strain is the most commonly isolated strain, Dr. Troy Jones of Jones Veterinary Clinic, said.

However, there is a new strain that came out this year, which is called H3N2.

“Neither one has been associated with diseases in people,” Jones said. “It’s strictly for dogs.”

Jones said the vaccine for the H3N8 strain came out in 2009, but doctors don’t know if the same vaccine will control the new strain.

Symptoms of dog flu in the mildest form, include a cough that lasts 2-3 weeks. Some dogs can develop signs of sever pneumonia, such as high-grade fever and faster breathing. Other signs of infected dogs include nasal, ocular discharge, sneezing, fatigue and refusing food.

Jones said that dog flu is typically associated with areas of close proximity with a lot of dogs in one area.

“It just looks like they found some in Florence,” he said. “It’s something we look for just like in people. It can be anything from a slight cough to nothing at all all the way up to severe pneumonia, and in rare circumstances, death.”

Dr. Faith Drumheller of Opp Veterinarian Hospital, said the first case of dog flu was found in greyhounds 10 years ago.

Drumheller said there haven’t been any patients to come in with the flu.

Jones said in order to protect your dog from being infected, follow these simple rules.

• avoid taking pets to areas of high concentration of animals, such as shelters or breeding facilities.

• always keep an eye on your dog.

• check with your veterinarian and ask about whether they recommend the flu vaccine or not.

“The vaccine is definitely a good idea now that it’s hit Alabama,” he said. “It certainly won’t hurt. It could save a lot of trouble in the long run.”