Florida’s recent outbreak of “dog flu,” or H3N2 canine influenza virus, poses an “imminent threat” to canines around the state, Dr. Cynda Crawford announced during a news conference Thursday.
“It’s very important for the veterinarians and dog owners in the state of Florida to have a very heightened awareness of the presence of this virus,” said Crawford, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Crawford is credited with discovering the virus, which was confirmed in Florida on Tuesday. As of Thursday, more than 12 dogs were reported to be infected by the virus. The dogs that tested positive were either at a Perry, Georgia dog show from May 19-21 or the Deland, Florida dog show the following weekend.
The sick dogs may have also interacted with a dog that participated in one of those shows.
“Dog flu” is highly contagious and is spread through direct contact with an infected dog -- or a person exposed to the virus, according to the college. There is no evidence to suggest “dog flu” affects humans.
Symptoms of the virus include sneezing, nasal discharge, frequent coughing, decreased appetite and lethargy during the first few days of infection. Symptoms can last for two weeks and be contagious for longer.
“Dog flu” can have more serious consequences in some dogs, leading to pneumonia that requires hospital care. The virus can also cause respiratory infections in cats.
Vaccines do exist for dog flu, and a 21-day quarantine is recommended for dogs with the H3N2 strain.
“Now is the time for veterinarians and dog owners to really consider getting their dogs vaccinated against this virus,” said Crawford.
For more information on how to protect your pet, click here.