The new strain of influenza (the flu) affecting Central Florida pets is called H3N2 and is a highly contagious virus. The outbreak started in the United States in Chicago in 2015 and has slowly been crossing the country. The symptoms of H3N2 influenza are sneezing, coughing, decreased appetite, fever, nasal discharge, eye discharge and lethargy. It is estimated that around 20% of dogs with H3N2 will develop pneumonia which if not treated can be fatal. H3N2 influenza is spread by direct contact with a sick dog (even if the dog is not displaying symptoms) and by contact with an environment or people that are contaminated with the virus. The virus can survive in the environment, surfaces, skin, and clothing for 12 to 24 hours before it dies. If a dog did have H3N2 influenza they can appear symptom free about two weeks after seeing a veterinarian and being treated but can still be contagious to other dogs for four weeks.
What can you do about this?
Most dogs do not have immunity to H3N2 influenza. The risk of exposure to the virus increases for your pet the more contact they have with other dogs and dog friendly places. Please be sure you are washing your hands after interacting with dogs in public places before touching your own pet at home. GOOD NEWS. At Markham Woods Animal Hospital we have a bivalent influenza vaccine that covers two strains of influenza: H3N2 and H3N8. We have previously been routinely vaccinating our pets for the H3N8 strain as this was the virus affecting our pets in Florida since 2004. Even if your pet has had the H3N8 vaccine, we recommend they come in for the bivalent vaccine and then back in three weeks for a booster as a single dose is not protective. The vaccine can help lessen the risk of illness in our healthy dogs and protect your dog from developing pneumonia from the virus. Give us a call at 407-682-3233 to schedule your vaccine visit.
What if my dog has canine flu symptoms?
Please call our clinic before walking in with your sick dog. Please let us know the symptoms your dog is experiencing and we will do our best to see your pet. Remember, the H3N2 influenza is HIGHLY contagious. Since we have many other pets visiting our hospital at a time we want to make sure we take all necessary precautions before your pet comes into the clinic. Please give us a call at 407-682-3233 with any questions.