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Friday, April 15, 2016

Canine Influenza Moves To Cats

By now most dog owners in the US know about the risks of canine influenza, especially people in the Chicago and Atlanta areas.  The most recent strain of "dog flu", H3N2, has proven to be a highly contagious disease.  Thankfully it is rare to have a dog die from it, though some can become quite sick.  But now it may not be just dogs that are at risk.

Here's copy from a recent article about some cats who contracted H3N2 in Wisconsin.  It's short, so I'm going to copy it here, but the original article is at this link.

Sandra Newbury, a clinical assistant professor and director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, tested multiple cats at an animal shelter in northwest Indiana, according to the release. The cats tested positive for the H3N2 canine influenza virus.

"Suspicions of an outbreak in the cats were initially raised when a group of them displayed unusual signs of respiratory disease," Newbury said in the release. "While this first confirmed report of multiple cats testing positive for canine influenza in the U.S. shows the virus can affect cats, we hope that infections and illness in felines will continue to be quite rare."

Right now that's pretty much all we have.  From what I can see this is rare right now.  However it shows that cross-species transmission is possible, and that worries me.  Last year the US veterinary community was taken by surprise when H3N2 influenza made such a rapid spread across the country.  I live and practice near Atlanta and I absolutely didn't expect what happened here.  So when we stay that cats catching this virus is rare, I take that with a grain of salt.  H3N2 was unheard of in the US until a little over a year ago, and it made quite the impact.  Could that happen in cats?

I know that I'll be watching this development with interest, and will be watching out for any signs like this in cats in my area.  I don't want to be blindsided like we were last year.