The samples were received Monday. Sub-typing is ongoing and will determine if it is H3N2 influenza, a strain of influenza confirmed in dogs in the Southeast.
H3N2 influenza in dogs was first reported in Korea in 2007 originating in birds. It was then documented in China as far back as 2006. It emerged in the U.S. in 2015 in the Chicago area. It was since documented across the U.S. Recently, an outbreak originating at dog shows have led to cases confirmed in Georgia and Florida.
“We know it is an influenza from a dog,” said Dr. Melissa Kennedy, director of the virology laboratory at the veterinary college. “The dog was at a boarding facility in the Knoxville region that housed a dog that had been exposed to dogs from a show in Perry, Georgia, where a confirmed outbreak has occurred.”
Owners of dogs boarded at the facility have been notified and are isolating their dogs.
Dogs infected with H3N2 influenza exhibit coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and fever. Canine influenza is usually a mild disease, resembling “kennel cough.” The course of infection of most canine influenzas is generally two to three weeks. A more severe form with pneumonia may happen, but is uncommon. Death from H3N2 is rare. Puppies, elderly dogs and dogs with other diseases are most susceptible to disease. Vaccines against H3N2 and H3N8 Influenza are available.
Situations, which bring dogs together, increase the risk for exposure. Transmission of most strains of canine influenza from dog to dog is by spread of respiratory secretions; coughing, dog-to-dog contact or indirect contact such as animal caretakers or contaminated objects like bowls may transmit the virus. The virus is easily killed in the environment with disinfectants.
Kennedy recommended vaccination against canine influenza prior to dogs boarded or participating in shows or competition. Dogs that possibly were exposed to the virus should be isolated from other dogs for at least three weeks. There has been no documented transmission of H3N2 influenza to humans, but Kennedy recommended limited close contact with any species that has any influenza virus.
Kennedy advised dog owners to talk to their veterinarian for specific recommendations. Anyone with a coughing dog should seek veterinary treatment. There are many causes, both viral and bacterial, of a cough in a dog, and a veterinarian is best equipped to determine the cause and prescribe the most appropriate treatment. Diagnostic tests are available to determine if influenza is involved, and the UT College of Veterinary Medicine offers PCR testing for influenza virus in all species for all strains. Visit vetmed.tennessee.edu/vmc/dls/virology for information on submission guidelines.
For more information about canine influenza, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website at avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx.
One of 30 veterinary colleges in the United States, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine educates students in the art and science of veterinary medicine and related biomedical sciences, promotes scientific research and enhances human and animal well-being.
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