Kansas Veterinarian Discusses Canine Influenza Prevention

Posted on April 27, 2015 16:01

A Kansas State University veterinarian recently gave her recommendations on how to prevent canine influenza, following recent cases of the respiratory disease in the Chicago area.

The university’s Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has not received a positive case of canine influenza, or dog flu, in the last year. However, the disease is known to be highly contagious and pet owners need to know how to prevent its spread before they take their dog outside the state.

Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor at the university’s Veterinary Health Center, said, “[Canine influenza] can survive on inanimate objects like leashes, water bowls, food bowls, brushes and human clothing for 24 hours.”

She added, “It can live on a person's hands for about 12 hours, so it's important to wash your hands and use general sanitary precautions like you would to prevent the spread of the human influenza.”

The dog flu cases reported in Chicago is an H3N2 strain that is caused by a virus related closely to Asian strains seen in South Korean and southern Chinese dogs, according to Cornell University. This strain is not known to affect humans, but it infects almost all dogs exposed to it. However, just around 80 percent of the infected dogs will show symptoms like coughing, dehydration, lethargy, fever and a yellow-green nasal discharge. Other dogs will show no symptoms but can still spread the disease.

Nelson said, “The vast majority of these dogs have a mild form of the disease that lasts for about two to three weeks. They will get better with just supportive care. About 10 percent of these dogs can develop pneumonia, which can be fatal. In Chicago, according to reports, the more severely affected dogs have generally been less than a year old or older than 7 years old.”

She added, “My advice to dog owners is to watch the news and be aware of where the disease is across the country. Unlike human influenza, this virus is not seasonal, so it can be contracted at any time of the year. Dogs that are at greatest risk for exposure to this disease are those who frequent areas where lots of dogs are in one place, like kennels, dog shows, shelters and doggie day care facilities.”

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