Canine Influenza

The University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, Small Animal Clinical Sciences reported the emergence of a canine respiratory disease caused by an influenza virus.

The first respiratory signs and deaths occurred in greyhounds at a racetrack in Florida in January 2004.

It is spread most easily where dogs are housed together.

The spread of the disease is unknown, but it has killed racing greyhounds in seven (7) states and has been found in dogs in shelters, boarding facilities, clinics, and pet shops.

The respiratory symptoms were often mistaken for "kennel cough". Veterinarians should consider canine influenza in their differential diagnosis for respiratory disease with "kennel cough" like symptoms.

Symptoms of the canine flu include coughing and gagging that can last 1 to 4 weeks despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants; dogs may spike a fever as high as 106 degrees and have runny noses.

About 80% of dogs that are infected with the virus will develop symptoms.

It is highly contagious and sometimes deadly.

Fatality rate is more than (1) percent and could be as high as ten (10) percent among puppies and older dogs.

Currently there is no vaccine for the canine flu; use of flu vaccines approved for other species is not recommended.

Early clinical identification and isolation of suspected cases as well as preventive measures in screening boarders with unknown history or early clinical signs is recommended.

The canine virus is an H3N8 flu closely related to an equine flu strain. The equine influenza is not known to infect humans. The canine flue is not related to the human flu or to the avian flu.

Currently there are no known cases of the canine flu infecting humans.

Veterinarians should contact the Clemson University Veterinary Diagnostic Center (803-788-2260) for instructions on sample submission.