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Doggie Flu Have you ever seen a dog with a sneezing and coughing fit? Well, my dog is doing just that. And yes, Josie has the flu.

Itís true. Dogs can get the flu. In fact, influenza A of varying types infects horses, pigs, cats, seals, birds, tigers, and even whales.

I canít imagine a whale sneezing!

I wouldnít want to be around for that!

Ok… back to my pathetic Rottweiler with the flu. The influenza responsible has an interesting history. Itís called the H3N8 equine influenza virus and previously infected only horses.

That is until 2004, when cases of an unknown respiratory illness showed up in dogs, initially greyhounds. Scientists investigated and identified the virus as H3N8.

Apparently the virus had jumped species to dogs, and now is considered a dog-specific lineage of H3N8.

Just like in humans, the symptoms for dogs with this flu are cough, runny nose and fever. However, a small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease.

Pneumonia is one complication, but donít worry. Eighty percent of dogs will only suffer a mild case of this disease.

So far thereís no evidence this canine influenza has jumped to people, but scientists are being vigilant.

Thatís because influenza viruses are constantly changing; and the potential exists for H3N8 to infect humans and spread easily among us.

If that happened, it would be a pandemic influenza threat.

So the Centers for Disease Control is monitoring H3N8, as well as many other animal influenza viruses.

In general, canine influenza viruses are considered a low threat to humans.

What you can do is protect your beloved Fido by getting him a flu vaccine.

Yep, like me, Josie gets the pleasure of an annual flu shot!


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For more information…

The Center for Disease Control 's (CDC) mission is to collaborate to create the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health – through health promotion, prevention of disease, injury and disability, and preparedness for new health threats. The CDC web site is a very useful site to get information about many health issues. Their fact sheet about canine flu can be read here.

For information about the dog flu vaccine and more links to information about it and the flu itself go here.

The American Veterinarian Medical Association has a detailed web site about the canine flu with links to additional information here.

For a very accessible and well written article about the canine flu, its origins and spread among dogs, go to the National Geographic web site.


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