Dog swimming in North sea beach at Dutch wadden island Terschelling

With a holiday weekend and graduation, people like to take their dogs on the road. However, pet owners might want to think twice as a recent out break of a new strain of “dog flu” or canine influenza has hit both Atlanta and Alabama in the past week bringing the count to 12 states reporting the disease.

Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) in the U.S. is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. It  is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs through direct contact, nasal secretions (through coughing and sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Dogs of any breed, age, sex or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.  (SOURCE)

According to AVMA.org, CIV infection resembles canine infectious tracheobronchitis (“kennel cough”). The illness may be mild or severe, and infected dogs develop a persistent cough and may develop a thick nasal discharge and fever. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite, and low-grade fever. Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian.

CIV can be diagnosed early in the illness (less than 4 days) by testing a nasal or throat swab. The most accurate test for CIV infection is a blood test that requires a sample taken during the first week of illness, followed by a second sample 10-14 days later.

H3N2 made headlines in April after an estimated 1,000 dogs in Chicago contracted the virus, but now the virus is popping up in other states.

According to USA TODAY:

Positive tests for H3N2 have also been reported in Alabama, California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa and Indiana,according to the most recent report by Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center. And a new case was confirmed Wednesday in the metro Atlanta area of Georgia.

There is no evidence that the flu can be transferred to humans, according to a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s estimated that several thousand dogs have been affected by the virus, but not more than 10,000 at this point, Keith Poulsen, a professor of veterinary medicine at theUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison, told USA TODAY Network in an email.

3 Steps Dog Owners Should Take:

  1.  Don’t panic.
  2. High-risk dogs, such as dogs that absolutely have to be boarded or go to doggy daycare, in epidemic areas (such as Chicago) should be vaccinated, despite a very low chance of cross-protection.
  3. Avoid direct contact with sick dogs. Keep your dog on a leash in epidemic areas. Keep your high-risk (pets) at home in epidemic areas.
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Clark Shelton has made Franklin home for over 2 decades, raised a family (his son currently attends MTSU), and contributed greatly to the quality of life in Downtown Franklin for many years as part of the Heritage Foundation and Downtown Franklin Association. He has been the General Manager of WilliamsonSource.com for 2 years, after serving as Social Media Coordinator in the early days.