Dog Flu Epidemic Linked to South Korea

kpopluv, April 13, 2015, 9:37 a.m.

More than 1,000 dogs in Chicago and surrounding areas have contracted strains of influenza A H3N2 virus found among dog populations in South Korea and isolated parts of southern China.  Scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin said Sunday this was the first time the rare canine flu has been detected in North America.

“The outbreak in Chicago suggests a recent introduction of the H3N2 virus from Asia,” scientists said.  The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control said in a statement that the flu has killed five dogs.  While the virus is not believed to be contractible by humans, it causes strains, high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy in most infected dogs.

Cats can contract the H3N2 virus and symptoms include infection and respiratory illness.  A vet who works with Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary (BAPS) confirmed the H3N2 strand is active in South Korea.  Leo Mendoza, manager at BAPS, said that Korea does not have a nationally organized system for reporting pet viral outbreaks and it would not be possible to precisely identify where the strand originated.

“What is known is the fact that canine influenza is a real risk here, and all vets usually ensure that their patients are properly vaccinated. I would recommend anyone importing a dog from South Korea to be knowledgeable of the animal’s vaccination records, to ensure health and safety,” he said.  AJ Garcia, director of Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), said that there is a very small chance if any, that this influenza arrived in the states with the two recent rescues by HSI, HSUS and CFAF.

“Those dogs were in quarantine for at least 24 hours in South Korea. Upon arriving to the States, I am positive they went straight to a hospital that works with HSUS and kept in quarantine for a couple of days if not weeks,” Garcia said.  “Influenza stream H3N2 is more likely to have come from an individual transporting their dog back to the U.S. Sometimes people rush things and don’t take all the proper steps to make sure their pet is healthy and okay to be brought to another country.”  There is a cani-flu vaccination for the H3N2 virus that vets in South Korea can administer to infected dogs.

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