Earlier this year about 35 cases of Canine Influenza were confirmed in Los Angeles County. These dogs have all been quarantined, and there is no evidence so far of cases outside this group. While most of these dogs have recovered, this is an emergent disease, and officials are urging veterinarians and pet owners to team up to curb the spread before it becomes rampant. A shelter in Indiana discovered that the H3N2 strain of the virus is also contagious to cats. As far as we know, neither this nor the older H3N8 strain are contagious to humans. Humans are key in stopping the spread between sick and healthy pets, however! Fortunately, vaccinations are available for dogs for both strains of the virus.
Key steps in preventing the spread of Canine Influenza include:
- Vaccinate dogs who socialize with other dogs – go to groomers, boarding, dog parks, etc.
- Wash hands after handling pets.
- Don’t share toys, leashes, or food dishes between sick and healthy animals.
- Keep sick dogs isolated for at least 3 weeks.
- Get sick dogs tested.
There is currently no vaccine for cats, as it is rare for cats to become infected outside a shelter situation. Cats who become ill with the virus have so far shown only mild symptoms, such as sneezing, runny noses and eyes, drooling and lip-smacking.