Ohio State University Veterinarians Study Dog Flu


UPDATED: Monday November 5, 2012 8:58 PM

Health experts urged most Americans to get their annual flu shot before flu season begins…but does your dog need one, too?

The H3N8 virus first appeared in 2004, when it jumped the species barrier from horses to dogs. There have been outbreaks in at least four states, and the virus has showed up in 38 states, including Ohio, according to Dr. Joshua Daniels, an assistant professor at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

“They'd have a runny nose and perhaps a productive cough,” Dr. Daniels said.

The virus spreads easily and is highly contagious, but Daniels said that it is not much of a problem, unless the animals spend a lot of time in kennels, or are show dogs. He added that two local kennels require dogs who board there to be vaccinated against the dog flu. The vaccine requires two shots.

He said that OSU researchers studied a similar flu in cats by studying blood samples. Now they plan to start a study of dog flu to see how widespread it really is.

“In cats we actually were quite surprised,” he said. “To some sub-types we had over 40 percent of the cats with exposure. Now they didn't have any signs necessarily, but we think these viruses are out there circulating and the animals actually do form an immune response to them, so we know they're truly being exposed.”

Daniels said unlike the pig flu that showed up at fairs this past summer, dogs cannot spread their flu to people.

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