Test for new canine influenza strain available at university
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
MANHATTAN — Veterinarians can now test for the new strain of canine influenza that sickened thousands of dogs in the Midwest and is still popping up across the country. The test is available at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Since late April, more than 1,000 dogs had been infected — and some have died — from an H3N2 strain of canine influenza new to the U.S. that originated in Asia. Veterinarians at Kansas State University say they are now able to differentiate this strain from the other strain prevalent in the United States, H3N8.
"We can perform hemagglutinin and neuraminidase gene sequencing — the H and N portions of the strain — on a sample that is positive for canine influenza," said Ben Hause, research assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology. "This gene sequencing will allow us to compare how close of a genetic match the virus in the sample is to other canine influenza isolates and provide important epidemiological information, allowing us to track how the virus is evolving in dogs."
Hause says this information is relevant for vaccine design and determining if the virus is mutating.
While veterinarians can now determine which strain may be sickening dogs, there is currently no vaccine for this new strain.
"It is still unknown if the vaccine for the H3N8 strain of canine influenza offers cross-protection for this new strain of influenza," said Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor in clinical sciences at Kansas State University's Veterinary Health Center. "The main thing is to be vigilant about where you're taking your dog and watch for signs of illness. This is a disease we're going to see most often in places where there are groups of dogs, such as doggie day cares, dog parks and boarding facilities. Unlike human influenza, canine influenza is not a seasonal disease and can be contracted at any time of the year."
Almost all dogs exposed to the virus will become infected, but only about 80 percent of those dogs will show signs. Symptoms include coughing, fever, yellowish-green colored nasal discharge, dehydration and lethargy. The other 20 percent will show no signs of sickness, but will still be contagious, says Nelson.
Dogs typically show signs of the disease two to four days after exposure. This incubation period between exposure and when symptoms develop is when dogs are the most contagious to other dogs. Dogs can shed the virus for up to seven to 10 days after exposure and continue to be contagious during this time.
"The vast majority of dogs have a mild form of the disease that lasts for about two to three weeks," Nelson said. "They will get better with just supportive care. About 10 percent of these dogs can develop pneumonia, which can be fatal. My advice to dog owners is to watch the news and be aware of where the disease is across the country."
There currently have been no cases of in Kansas.
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