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by: Michelle Ferrera, DVM
Canine influenza has been in the news since a cluster of cases emerged in Florida after exposure occurred at a Perry, Georgia dog show. Canine flu symptoms can include a persistent cough, eye and nose discharge, sneezing, lethargy, inappetance and fever. The symptoms can mimic those of kennel cough, and special testing is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Most dogs that become sick will have mild form of the illness, but puppies, elderly and pets with other medical conditions can become severely ill. The virus is not contagious to humans.
Vaccination is available for dogs that are considered at risk for flu exposure. The current vaccine contains both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains. H3N8 was detected in 2004 in Florida racing greyhounds. H3N2 was identified in Chicago in 2015, and is the same strain that is affecting dogs in the Southeast now. An initial vaccine followed by a booster in two to four weeks results in maximum protection two weeks after the second booster vaccine.
Ask your veterinarian if you have any questions about canine influenza. Your veterinarian can discuss whether your dog might be at risk for exposure, and if you should consider having your dog vaccinated.