Experts Say Canine Influenza Has Spread to Infect Cats
Sandra Newbury, a clinical assistant professor and director of the Shelter Medicine Program the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, recently tested a group of shelter cats in Northwest Indiana that presented symptoms of a virus normally found in dogs. She soon found that they tested positive for H3N2, also known as a type of canine influenza virus.
Canine influenza has been on the move in the United States the past few years. This, however, is not the first reported case of a feline contracting the virus, as one cat tested positive for it last year. However, it is the first time that an entire group of cats has been affected.
Preliminary work that studied the genetic signature of the virus in these cats has confirmed that the strain is identical to the H3N2 virus that affects dogs. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin is conducting a full genetic analysis to study the virus further.
Newbury has confirmed that, at this time, all of the affected felines have been quarantined and no infected cat or dog has left the shelter.
Respiratory symptoms that may present in cats with the virus include a runny nose, congestion and general malaise as well as excessive salivation and lip smacking. Thankfully, the symptoms have so far been resolved quickly and no cats have died as a result of the virus.
Dogs may present different symptoms should they contract canine influenza. Symptoms include a fever, persistent cough as well as a runny nose. Be aware that some dogs may present none of these symptoms and still be infected, while other dogs present much more severe signs of illness. The virus has been linked to the cause of death in some dogs, but most recover with the right amount of care.
A H3NS vaccine is available for dogs, but no vaccine is approved for cats for protection against this virus. Should you believe your dog or cat shows signs of this virus, immediately quarantine your pet and consult your veterinarian ASAP.
More by Diana Faria