New strain of canine influenza appears in county

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has confirmed to local Historic City News reporters today that a number of dogs in St Johns, Putnam, and Flagler County are currently being hospitalized for H3N2 canine influenza (dog flu).

This is a canine influenza strain new to Florida, and is a highly contagious virus. The virus can survive in the environment for 12 to 24 hours, and is transmissible by direct contact with infected dogs, as well as indirectly by people’s hands, clothing, food and water bowls, etc.

“Take precautions to decrease the risk of infection both directly and indirectly. Common clinical signs may include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and fever in dogs. Dogs recover in about 2 weeks but may remain infectious up to 2 weeks after illness, and, therefore, should be quarantined for 4 weeks,” the college advised.  “Cats are susceptible to H3N2 canine influenza, as well. Cats can present with clinical signs of respiratory infection including sneezing and nasal discharge.”

Some animal clinics in the area are asking Historic City News readers to “call first” before bringing pets showing any clinical signs or symptoms of the flu so that they can minimize the chances of causing further infection in healthy pets by setting up an appointment for an examination outside.

The virus can “hitch a ride” on humans who have been in contact with sick dogs or cats, so arrange to have veterinary supplies brought out to your car if you are in contact with a dog exposed to dog flu or showing upper respiratory infection signs.

A new bivalent flu vaccination for both this newer strain and the original strain of canine influenza is available for dogs only. While the vaccine may not prevent infection, it will make it less likely. If a vaccinated dog does become infected, the course of illness is likely to be shorter, less severe, and less likely to develop into pneumonia. However, please be aware that demand for the vaccination has increased, and supplies may be limited due to current high demand.

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