This past Tuesday, researchers identified a new strain of canine influenza virus that is occurring in the south of China. Researchers have designated this strain as the H1N1 strain which is the same strain that caused the swine flu outbreak in 2009.
The news of this type of flu crossing from pigs to dogs has caused alarm among some members of the general public. They worry that they might catch this terrible flu strain from their pet someday. However, is there really that much to be worried about?
Dog flu has been known for approximately 20 years in one form or another. The strain most often identified within the United States and Canada is the H3N8 strain that was first reported in Texas back in 2004. Another dog flu strain known as H3N2 began in dogs in Chicago back in 2015, and several dogs in New York are now known to be infected with this form of the virus.
Neither of these two common canine flu viruses is known to readily pass between dogs and humans. As far as the new H1N1 canine flu virus is concerned, scientists are not too worried about it spreading to humans.
Human and canine genetic chromosomes are quite dissimilar. This would make it hard for the flu to cross from dogs to people. When the H1N1 passed from pigs to people, scientists weren’t that surprised because the pig and human have more genetic chromosome similarity.
The new strain of the canine flu virus has been seen to pass from dogs to cats. Because of this, researchers and scientists are remaining on guard for any signs whatsoever the canine flu is making its way into the human population.
The signs of canine flu are similar to what one sees in people with the flu. Dogs with the flu will be lethargic. They will often have a runny nose and coughing. Since it is a virus, antibiotics will not lessen the symptoms or alter the course of the flu.
Just as people can be vaccinated on an annual basis against the flu virus, there is a vaccine that is available for dogs to take annually. Pet owners should check with their veterinarians to decide if the canine flu vaccine is right for their particular dog.