Protect your pooch from new flu

In recent weeks, an outbreak of H3N2 has sickened dogs in the Midwest.  Two veterinarians with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine who have first-hand knowledge of the virus share information about the virus, and also provide advice on protecting your dogs from H3N2 influenza virus.
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Colin Parrish, professor of virology and Director of the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is part of a team studying the virus and trying to pinpoint the identity of the virus strain responsible. He gives some background on what H3N2 is, how it came to the U.S. and how to protect your dog.
Parrish says:
So far there are no commercial vaccines available against the H3N2 canine influenza virus, although experimental vaccines have been described. Vaccines against the H3N8 influenza virus – which has existed in this country for more than a decade – are available, but there are differences in the genetic sequences of the two strains that suggest that these vaccines would be poorly effective, or ineffective in protecting dogs against the H3N2 virus infecting dogs in the Midwest.”
“The H3N2 influenza virus emerged in Asia among dogs suffering from respiratory disease in 2006 and 2007. This canine virus likely arose through the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus  – possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets – to dogs. That virus spread widely among dogs in South Korea and in several regions of China and caused an outbreak of respiratory disease among dogs in Thailand in 2012.
“As for other species becoming infected, there have been no reports or evidence that H3N2 influenza can infect humans. We do know that H3N2 was able to infect cats under certain circumstances, and experiments with the strain circulating in Asia showed that under some circumstances cats living with H3N2-infected dogs could become infected. There’s also some evidence that guinea pigs and ferrets can become infected and shed the virus.
The H3N2 virus appears to generally cause a mild upper respiratory tract disease. Some more severe infections have been reported, possibly because the dogs were also infected with other respiratory pathogens. In these cases, it may be necessary to treat any bacterial infection the dog may have acquired.
“The virus can be inactivated or removed by cleaning with detergents or disinfectants. As with other influenza viruses, keeping infected dogs away from susceptible animals would be beneficial. Quarantining infected dogs for 5 to 7 days may help to slow the spread of the virus.”
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Brian Collins, a companion animal veterinarian at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, has experience in handling and treating dogs infected with canine influenza viruses and offers advice on protecting your dogs from H3N2.
Collins says:
“At this time no cats in the U.S. have been diagnosed with H3N2. For now, precautions for dogs should be followed.
“Dogs at most risk of contracting the H3N2 virus are those that have contact with other dogs, particularly those that are having symptoms of a respiratory infection. Situations that pose risk include boarding kennels, grooming salons, canine daycare, dog parks, animal shelters, and any other locations where dogs can interact. If you live in one of the outbreak zones, you should avoid these locations.
“As with other infectious diseases, extra precautions may be necessary with puppies, elderly dogs, and dogs that are immunocompromised for any reason.
“Symptoms usually consist of fever, runny nose, and persistent coughing. Most dogs are only mildy affected and some have no symptoms at all. A small number of dogs can become severely ill and develop life-threatening pneumonia. If your pet exhibits symptoms, consult with your veterinarian.”

Tests reveal canine flu outbreak caused by new strain of virus

CHICAGO –  Doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners want pet owners to be aware of new information released Sunday that shows the canine flu outbreak affecting more than 1,000 dogs in the Chicago area is believed to be caused by a different strain of the virus than earlier assumed.

Researchers from Cornell University and University of Wisconsin say additional tests revealed the virus is a strain not previously seen in North America, and it’s unknown if the current vaccine provides any protection from it, according to a Cornell University press release.

“This is important information for all pet owners to know,” said Dr. Juliet Gladden, a board-certified specialist in emergency and critical care with BluePearl in Illinois. “While we don’t want to discourage people from vaccinating their pets, it may be more important to heed warnings to avoid places such as dog parks or grooming salons where the virus could be spread.”

According to the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control in Illinois, more than 1,000 dogs have become sick and five have died as a result of canine influenza. About 40 cases of flu have been reported at the three BluePearl Veterinary hospitals in the Chicago area in the past two weeks.

The outbreak had been attributed to the H3N8 virus, but the new tests show that it is the H3N2 virus, which is typically found in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations, the researchers said. Unlike the other strain, H3N2 may cause illness in cats, although there is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans.

Both strains cause high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge and lethargy. However, symptoms may be more severe in cases caused by the H3N2 virus, Cornell officials said.

“If you notice any of these symptoms, please call your primary care veterinarian or an emergency care hospital before taking any action,” said Gladden. “They may have suggestions for managing your case at home, which could help prevent the disease from spreading further.”

About BluePearl Veterinary Partners
BluePearl Veterinary Partners employs 2,400 team members including more than 500 veterinarians. BluePearl hospitals offer referral-only, specialty care services and most offer 24-hour emergency care. BluePearl does not provide primary care. The company is one of the world’s principal providers of approved veterinary residency and internship programs. BluePearl also participates in clinical trials that investigate the effectiveness of new veterinary drugs and treatments, providing pet families access to cutting-edge medicine that is not yet commercially available. BluePearl is headquartered in Tampa FL.

Pet Talk: Pets like Camping, too!

For those who enjoy the great outdoors, camping during the springtime can be a perfect weekend getaway.  However, if you don’t want to leave your four-legged friends behind while setting out on your adventure, try bringing them along.

“Many campgrounds allow pets, with certain rules and regulations,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Often, the rules regarding pets can be seen posted on their website, and if not, questions can be easily answered over the phone. However, it is not advised that you show up with your pet without prior research and consent.

“Most rules will include things such as having your pet on a leash, making sure they are supervised at all times, and requiring proof of vaccinations,” Stickney said. “Even if they don’t require health records or vaccination certificates, it’s a good idea to bring them along just in case.”

Just as you need to pack food and other essentials for yourself, don’t forget to pack necessities for your pets as well. Some items you’ll need to bring are plenty of food, a pet first-aid kit, a harness, and a leash. Even if the campsite has natural water resources, such as streams or lakes, you must still bring plenty of water for your pet to drink throughout your stay.

“Your pets will want to drink out of any pond and lake in sight, but there are many different diseases they can catch by doing that,” Stickney said. “So you don’t want that to be their primary source of water.”

Coming into contact with wild animals is a definite risk when you are out in a national forest or grassland. Although most of the wildlife you run into wants to keep away from you as well, you should have a way of containing your pet just in case.

“If your pet does get into a tussle with a wild animal, you do not want to get into the middle of it,” Stickney said. “There is a very good chance you will be bitten or harmed.” Your best method of action is calling off your pet or to try scaring away the wild animal.

In order to prevent such situations in the first place, it is a good idea to keep your pets close to you throughout your camping expedition and to have a leash or harness available at all times.

Before setting off on your camping adventure, make sure your pets are up-to-date on all of their vaccinations, especially rabies. Depending on the campsite’s location, you may consult with your veterinarian about any other vaccinations that your pet may need, as well as discuss appropriate flea and tick control.

To make camping with your pet an exciting experience for the both of you, be sure to research the campsite ahead of time, take note of any restrictions or regulations, and bring the essentials along with you. Following these guidelines will guarantee a good time for everyone.

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Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pettalk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.