Canine Influenza: Canada Reports Two Cases

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Canine influenza confirmed in Canada, health officials say

Maybe your dog should be getting a flu shot as well as it appears that there is a version of canine influenza that has been identified in Canada.

Two cases of the doggy flu have been confirmed in Canadian canines, who were shipped to the country from South Korea of all places.

Maybe Canadian health officials should have taken a closer look at the two animals before letting them into the country as both dogs were clearly showing signs of a respiratory disease the day after they arrived.

The two dogs in Essex County Ontario, have H3N2 canine influenza, which is a type of dog flu that is very prevalent in Asia and parts of the United States.

“In general, we know this is a flu that has been around in Asia for quite a while and has moved into the U.S. a few years ago,” said Scott Weese, a professor and infectious disease specialist at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. “It’s been causing problems in the U.S. for a few years and we haven’t seen it in Canada until this recent incident.”

The canine flu is not zoonotic, which means that humans can not contract it. It is also not life threatening for dogs, but older dogs, or those with a compromized immune system are at risk of developing severe cases and in cases like these deaths have been reported.

Symptoms of Canine Influenza

“It’s a flu-like illness. It gives them fever, they feel pretty run down, they get a cough which is often the most remarkable sign. In most dogs that’s it. It runs its course,” said Weese.

A small number of dogs that came into contact with the infected dogs are already showing symptoms of respiratory disease, but the actual flu virus has not been confirmed in those animals yet.

“Canine influenza virus is of concern because it is highly transmissible between dogs, particularly in areas (such as Canada) where dogs do not have natural immunity from previous infection and where canine influenza vaccination is rare,” the Essex County health unit explained.

“There is no known human risk from H3N2 canine influenza virus; however, the risk of reassortment (or mixing together) between the canine H3N2 virus and human seasonal influenza viruses is a potential concern,” the health unit added.

“Dogs with signs of respiratory disease (e.g. cough, decreased appetite, nasal and eye discharge, and fever) should be kept away from others dogs for at
least two weeks.”

According to Dr. Kate Sweetman, a Windsor veterinarian if a dog owner thinks that their dog could have the flu, bringing it to the vet is the last thing they should do, and instead they should call their vet to discuss whether to bring them in or not.

“Putting your dog in a waiting room where there’s other dogs could help spread the canine influenza,” she explained.

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Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca


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