By now, you’ve probably heard about the new strain of canine influenza that has infected dogs across the Midwest U.S. Over 1,000 dogs have been infected with the H3N2 virus over the course of about a month, and unfortunately, there have been some fatalities.
Something needs to be done, but what? Well, researchers are working on the problem. Scientists at Kansas State are isolating pieces of the H3N2 virus to compare them to H3N8, a more common strain of canine influenza. By pulling the virus apart and figuring out the similarities, the hope is that they will be able to understand the evolution of the new strain and develop a vaccine. Now, they are able to test dogs for influenza and determine which strain they’ve been infected with.
Unfortunately, it’s still early in the research process. There is a vaccine for H3N8, but researchers aren’t sure whether or not the H3N8 vaccine will protect again H3N2. Until more research helps answer these questions, it’s important for pet owners to be on the lookout for signs of illness in their dogs.
What to look for? While only about 80% of infected dogs will show clinical signs of the disease, those that do become ill will usually start to show symptoms within two to four days of exposure. Infected dogs may be lethargic, dehydrated, run a fever, and cough and produce yellow-green nasal discharge. The majority of pets will get better after a couple of weeks, but it’s possible that a dog can develop pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Read more about this research here. When most people think of animal research, it’s usually in the context of animals helping humans. But often, animal information provides insight into new treatments that will help animals, too – something that’s definitely needed in this case!