Don’t panic! Just stay informed and be wary of the signs of the flu.
By Justyne Yuen-Lee
Credit: Facebook / Humane Society International
Last year, the Humane Society International (HSI) rescued over 200 dogs from South Korean dog meat farms. The dogs were found in poor and harsh conditions – locked in outdoor cages, in dirty surroundings and without proper grooming or hygiene, and they were fed only once a day. With the dedication and hard work of the HSI, the rescued dogs traveled around the world to countries where they could find their forever homes. For some of these dogs, there is still a fight for a second chance at a happy life.
Unfortunately, due to the horrible conditions on the farms where they were caged, some of the dogs contracted H3N2, a highly infectious canine flue that has spread across Asia and parts of the US. Now, there are two confirmed cases in Canada.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) in Ontario, Canada has confirmed that two dogs have the infection and two more are showing signs. The WECHU says there is no known human risk. (No one start screaming dog flu like we did with swine flu back in 2009)
There are concerns, however, that a dog may contract the human flu while being infected with H3N2 and possibly combine the strain to make a new virus. This is unlikely, but the WECHU warns the public to be wary about flu in both canines and humans.
Credit: Facebook / MotorCity Greyhound Rescue
The MotorCity Greyhound Rescue of Detroit, Michigan says that they had “no way of knowing” that two of the dogs, who eventually made their way to Canada, were carrying the canine flu. According to staff, they quarantined the dogs for three months and all dogs were up to date with vaccinations.
Since the symptoms of canine flu are similar to kennel cough, it is difficult to determine if dogs have the flu. The symptoms include: fever, fatigue, and a cough. Like most infections, the flu usually runs its course, but could be harmful to older dogs who already have pre-existing respiratory problems.
The two infected dogs are being handled according to protocol and are on the way to better health, but the WECHU is warning the public now in the hope that the virus doesn’t spread.
The WECHU has provided these points to inform pet owners on influenza:
- Most dogs that develop influenza do not get seriously ill. Respiratory disease that is indistinguishable from other infectious respiratory diseases (canine infectious respiratory disease complex, also known as kennel cough) usually occurs, although serious (including fatal) infections and/or complications can develop.
- Infected dogs can shed influenza virus for a short time prior to the onset of disease. So, dogs that appear to be healthy are still a potential source of infection.
- Canine influenza vaccines can reduce the risk of disease and are available from veterinarians in Canada.
- Cats can be infected but this appears to be rare.
If you suspect your dog has the flu, be sure to call your vet immediately so they can take handle the proper precautions, testing, and treatment if necessary.