Last month marks first time the H3N2 canine influenza virus or canine flu has been officially identified in Florida. However, the virus has infected thousands of pets in Eastern and Midwestern states since 2015. Canine flu can spread rapidly between pets, commonly causing fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and life-threatening respiratory infections.
The virus strain is not believed to be transferable to humans, however, it has also been reported in felines. Similar to other forms of influenza, canine flu is spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions, like coughing, sneezing and barking, and also via surface contamination.
“The recent outbreak of canine influenza should be a cause for concern for pet owners throughout Florida, especially those who frequently visit high-risk areas with their pet,” said Dr. Ira Zaslow, a board-certified specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care medicine and medical director of Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists. “I encourage pet owners to contact their primary care veterinarian to discuss having their dog vaccinated. Dogs who receive vaccinations are not immune to the virus, but should recover more quickly and with less complications if they do contract canine flu.”
High-risk areas include, dog parks, pet-friendly stores, animal boarding facilities, grooming salons, animal shelters, dog shows and similar locations.
There is currently no available H3N2 vaccine for felines. The best way to prevent cats from the pathogen is limiting their exposure to high-risk settings and infected dogs.
“Most importantly, if you believe your pet is suffering from canine flu, call your primary care veterinarian immediately. Calling, rather than visiting can help limit the spread of the virus,” said Zaslow.
For more information about Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists, visit http://www.lauderdalevets.com or call 954.641.1100.
About Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists
Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists is a 24-hour veterinary emergency, critical care, referral hospital and imaging center serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami Dade counties. Their services include: emergency, critical care, internal medicine, neurosurgery, neurology, ultrasound, CT-scan, digital radiography, bereavement counseling, physical therapy, rehabilitation, as well as, soft tissue, orthopedic and reconstructive surgery. LVS can be reached at 954.641.1100 and is located at 3217 NW 10th Terrace, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309.