It seems the flu virus is a nasty one this year, and people are not the only ones susceptible to catching a strain of the flu. Canine influenza H3N2 is making its way across the country, but there are no confirmed cases in the New Orleans area.
H3N2 is a viral disease that causes dog flu, a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. It is treated with lots of fluids, rest and antibiotics for any accompanying bacterial illnesses, but for the most part, it simply must run its course. Most dogs make a full recovery, and the chance of it becoming fatal is less than 3 percent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the H3N2 canine influenza virus is a bird flu virus that adapted to infect dogs. This virus is genetically different from human seasonal H3N2 viruses.
The virus was first detected in dogs in South Korea in 2007 and the first confirmed U.S. case was in April 2015. It is not known how canine H3N2 virus was introduced into the United States. There is no evidence the canine flu can be transferred to humans, but cats also can get the H3N2 virus.
Nearly all dogs exposed to the illness become infected, and 80 percent show symptoms like coughing, lethargy, fever, decrease appetite and a runny nose. In rare cases, they can develop pneumonia. Just as we are disinfecting our homes to prevent human flu, dog items such as leashes, toys, water bowls, etc., should be thoroughly cleaned as well.
Here's what dog owners need to know:
1. NO CASES have been confirmed in New Orleans, but the strain has been detected in Louisiana.
2. THE VIRUS IS VERY CONTAGIOUS and spreads by direct contact between dogs and by coughing, sneezing and barking.
3. THE VIRUS CAN LIVE on surfaces for up to 48 hours and on human skin for up to 12 hours. While humans cannot catch it, they can pass the virus from one dog to another.
4. SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE fever, runny nose, coughing, lack of energy or lethargy and decreases in appetite. Depending on the severity, there may be no symptoms at all, or it can be so severe it develops into pneumonia.
5. PUPPIES AND SENIOR DOGS are more at risk of infection; however, all dogs are susceptible to infection.
6. USE CAUTION WHEN YOUR DOG is exposed to unfamiliar dogs at places like the park, day care and boarding facilities.
7. CONTACT A VET IMMEDIATELY if you have questions or concerns, or suspect that your pet may be displaying flu-like symptoms.
Run (or walk) for the animals on Team LA/SPCA in the Crescent City Classic on March 31 as a charity participant and receive swag bags with merchandise, free entry to NOLA on Tap 2018, pre- and post-event perks, a chance to win 2 JetBlue tickets, Damn Dog swag and a 3-month membership from New Orleans Athletic Club, Learn more and register for Team LA/SPCA at www.la-spca.org/ccc.
WEDNESDAY: At 6:30 p.m., the Louisiana SPCA offers a Reactive Rover Workshop, a humans-only class for those who struggle with a dog that barks or lunges at other dogs while on-leash. It includes resources, training plans and video tutorials. Cost is $25. To register, visit www.la-spca.org/trainingworkshops.
SATURDAY: From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Jefferson SPCA holds an adoption event at Jefferson Feed, 4421 Jefferson Highway, Jefferson. Come meet adoptable dogs from the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter.
SUNDAY: Adoptables from several local shelters and rescues will be participating in the Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade at 2 p.m. in the French Quarter. Pre-parade festivities start at 10:30 a.m. in Armstrong Park. There will be live entertainment, a cash bar, food vendors, sponsor booths and more. This year’s theme is “Game of Bones: Barkus Marks Its Territory.” For more information, visit www.barkus.org.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. In St. Bernard Parish, send to email@example.com.