GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- By now you've heard of the H1N1 virus, but what about H3N8? First identified at a greyhound racing kennel a few years ago, canine influenza is now popping up all over the United States.
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Swine flu has been on the news and on everyone's mind … but the newest flu victim is man's best friend.
"Only recently did it acquire the ability to infect dogs," Cynda Crawford, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor of shelter medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville, told Ivanhoe.
A new strain of flu spread from horses to dogs.
"Influenza is very notorious for its ability to be transmitted from one species, which is its natural host, to another species," Dr. Crawford explained.
It acts much like human flu, causing cough, runny nose and fever. About 80 percent of dogs recover in two to three weeks.
"About 20 percent get really sick, and they get full pneumonia, secondary complications, and about five to eight percent will die," Robert Hess, veterinarian at the Winter Park Veterinary Hospital in Winter Park, Fla., told Ivanhoe.
"In dogs, the ones that have developed pneumonia have actually been in the prime of their life," Dr. Crawford explained.
Concerned about the threat, veterinary medicine experts worked quickly. A vaccine for canine flu was approved in May, but don't expect it to be added to Fido's yearly exam.
"This is one of those that is a selective vaccine that we may use in certain situations," Dr. Hess explained.
"It's not meant for dogs who stay at home most often and go for walks around the block," Dr. Crawford said.
But veterinarians say it is for dogs that frequently socialize with groups of other dogs … at kennels, dog parks and shows. For the concerned owner, a conversation with your veterinarian is the best place to start.
Canine flu has now been reported in 30 states. Dr. Crawford says the virus is most concentrated in metropolitan areas including New York City, Philadelphia, greater Denver and Miami. So far no cases have spread to humans, although a few large cats have developed it. The vaccine for the virus costs $15 to $20.
The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Patti Cynthia (Cynda) Crawford, DVM, PhD
Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program
Gainesville, FL 32610-0138
(352) 392-2226 ext 5731
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
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