Canine Flu in Chicago

Something that’s news here but may not be elsewhere is that a new strain of canine flu has hit Chicago:

Researchers say a recent canine influenza outbreak that has sickened more than 1,000 dogs in the Chicago area is a strain of the virus that has never been seen before in the United States.
According to laboratory scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin, the outbreak creating an epidemic in the Chicago area is caused by a strain closely related to Asian strains of the influenza A H3N2 viruses.

Here’s Cornell’s statement on the outbreak:

ITHACA, N.Y. – The canine influenza outbreak afflicting more than 1,000 dogs in Chicago and other parts of the Midwest is caused by a different strain of the virus than was earlier assumed, according to laboratory scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin. Researchers at Cornell say results from additional testing indicate that the outbreak is being caused by a virus closely related to Asian strains of influenza A H3N2 viruses, currently in wide circulation in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations since being identified in 2006. There is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans.
The outbreak in the Midwest had been attributed to the H3N8 strain of virus, which was identified in the U.S. dog population in 2004 and has been circulating since. The H3N2 virus had not been previously detected in North America. The outbreak in Chicago suggests a recent introduction of the H3N2 virus from Asia.

As you may know the Cornell vet school is quite highly regarded. On a personal note my nephew’s wife is attending school there.

This flu outbreak is causing quite a panic in the dog fancy in Chicago. That the vaccine which is administered here is likely useless in preventing contraction of the disease probably won’t help matters.

There’s a story going around that the outbreak was caused by Korean dogs being rescued and brought to the states to keep them out of the stewpot. I don’t know whether to place any credence on that story or not.

When you consider that there are probably 15 million dogs in the Chicago area, 1,000 sick dogs and five deaths doesn’t sound like a very high risk. IMO reasonable precautions are probably warranted but not much more than that. Even to someone who has devoted as much of his life to dogs as I have, the concern I’m hearing today is excessive.

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