Highly contagious dog flu hits major Texas cities

Highly contagious dog flu hits major Texas cities

LUBBOCK, Texas -

As of June 15, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab have diagnosed seven cases of the highly contagious dog flu across the state. 

  • 4 in Harris County- three typed as H3N2, one pending typing
  • 1 in Travis County-type pending
  • 2 in Hood County-H3N2

This is the first time H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus has been seen in multiple dogs in Texas. 

Vets say it's time to get your social dog vaccinated against dog flu.

Related to the bird flu, a canine influenza outbreak could infect nearly every dog that comes into contact with it. There's no evidence this virus can be spread to people.

"About 80 percent of dogs will have signs and symptoms show, then a 20 percent will look like a normal, healthy dog, but could still spread dog flu," Dr. Derek Ishida with Above & Beyond Pet Care Hospital said.

Originating in Asia, in recent years, H3N2 has made its way around the world. 

In 2015, Chicago had an epidemic, causing vets to have to set up triage stations in tents because there offices were overrun with dog flu cases.

Doctors in Georgia and Florida reported cases earlier this year, and as of this month, it's made the rounds to Texas.

"It can become a problem very quickly. Canine influenza tends to spread most readily in high population density areas. Dallas, Houston, and Austin have all had cases of dog flu."

Exposed dogs can share the virus for up to 28 days from exposure. Dog flu is airborne, can travel up to 20 feet, and lives on surfaces for up to two days.

Dr. Brenda Wilbanks, the founder of The Haven Animal Care Shelter is aware of this virus and is protecting her shelter animals.

"I have heard from the vets that there's some new strain. We have not seen that yet thank goodness, but I think it's just like with people, something new gets started, and we have to be really careful with our animals."

No cases have been reported in Lubbock, but Ishida said that doesn't mean Lubbock dog owners shouldn't be concerned.

"We do have to be worried because if it comes through an area, it overwhelms the veterinary community in that area. It spreads so quickly, and because its so contagious and almost every dog gets dog flu if they come in contact with it."

With veterinary care, dog flu lasts two to three weeks. If left untreated, mild cases of dog flu can become serious or deadly. Watch out for these symptoms:

"A dog that's getting very lethargic, having a lot of sneezing, sometimes coughing. A lot of signs involved in an upper respiratory infection. If it's a really severe case: high fever, that includes even pneumonia that starts happening."

Madison Luscombe, board member of the South Plains SPCA said Lubbock could easily become a hotspot for a potential outbreak.

"We have all these strays that run around and infect everywhere. We have really bad wind, so when the wind blows, it blows the virus all over town," Luscombe said.

Keeping dogs vaccinated is key to preventing a widespread outbreak in Lubbock county. Vaccines are available for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains. For questions concerning vaccination options, contact your veterinarian.

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