America’s Dogs Have Their Own Flu Battles

While a brutal flu season is felling humans by the score, veterinarians warn that there have also been outbreaks of canine flu in some parts of the United States.

Which dog owners need to worry?

According to Dr. Amy Glaser, director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center, there have been pockets of cases reported in Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as in southwest Ohio and parts of central coastal California.

Two different strains can strike man’s best friend: H3N8, first identified in 2004, and H3N2, which first appeared on the scene in 2015.

“Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus,” explained Dr. Michael Topper, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

What’s more, “almost all dogs exposed to the virus will become infected,” although most cases will be mild, Topper said. Dogs can catch it from other dogs, and through contact with contaminated food and water bowls and toys.

Why will most catch it? Dog flu is still “an emerging disease,” Topper said, and most dogs in the United States have not been exposed to it.

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SOURCES: Amy Glaser, D.V.M., Ph.D., director, Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, Cornell University's Animal Health Diagnostic Center, Ithaca, N.Y.; Michael Topper, D.V.M., president, American Veterinary Medical Association, Schaumburg, Ill.

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