H3N2, a strain of the influenza virus, dates as far back as 2006 and originates from China. It showed up in dogs in 2007 in Korea and emerged in the U.S. with its first reported case in Chicago in 2015.
While the dog influenza cannot be transmitted to humans, it is extremely contagious to pups. A dog’s cough can reach up to 20 feet and the virus can stay alive on human’s clothing for up to 24 hours. The virus thrives in a dog’s saliva, running rampant in food and water bowls, especially at dog kennels, dog parks and in veterinary clinics.
Due to the rise of the virus in Knoxville, Tennessee centers have reportedly cancelled dog training classes. The empty rooms are an eery reminder of the threat of the disease.
A dog that has contracted H3N2 exhibits signs and symptoms similar to those of the human flu: coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and fever. Dogs can also become lethargic.
What can you do? Well, for one, get your dog vaccinated! It’s your best bet and best defense. Since dogs can pass it easily to one another in close contact, avoid dog parks or any recreational areas where cases have been reported. If you are bringing your dog to the park, bring your own water bowl. Keep a close eye on your dog. If she’s exhibiting any of the signs listed above, contact your vet immediately.