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I heard a story about canine flu on the radio. What is canine flu and can humans and dogs catch flu from each other?

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What is Dog Flu?

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

Two canine influenza viruses have been identified worldwide: an influenza A H3N8 virus and an influenza A H3N2 virus. No human infections with either of these canine influenza viruses have ever been reported.

They continue:

Signs of dog flu infection in dogs include cough, runny nose and fever, but not all dogs will show signs of illness. The severity of illness associated with dog flu in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death in dogs. Tests are available to determine if a dog has been infected. CDC recommends that people concerned about dog flu in their pets speak to their veterinarian.

Almost all dogs can be susceptible to infection with canine influenza viruses, and illness tends to spread among dogs housed in kennels and shelters. A vaccine to protect dogs against canine influenza A H3N8 has been available in the United States since 2009. It is not known yet whether the H3N8 dog flu vaccine will offer protection against the H3N2 dog flu virus

and

H3N2 dog flu...has been known to infect cats.

Symptoms

The American Veterinary Medical Association gives the symptoms as:

  • mild form — Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. They may also be lethargic and have a reduced appetite and fever. Sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose may also be observed. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the traditional "kennel cough" caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
  • severe form — Dogs with the severe form of canine influenza develop high fevers (104ºF to 106ºF) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.

Outbreaks

In April 2015 an outbreak of H3N2 was detected in Chicago and the surrounding Midwest areas. Over 1000 dogs were affected.

Recommendations

The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine has the following recommendations:

  1. Vaccinate dogs when possible, despite unknown efficacy of current H3N8 commercial vaccines to prevent or diminish clinical disease with the new H3N2 virus. To the best of our knowledge, the original H3N8 virus has not disappeared.

  2. Maintain good general infection control principles when exposed to other dogs (e.g., limit direct dog-to-dog oronasal contact).

  3. Soap and water is very effective at inactivating virus.

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

  5. Wash your hands and change your clothes if you work with or are exposed to sick dogs before handling your own pets at home. This also applies to veterinarians in practice.

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