How can my animal get influenza? In mammals, the influenza virus is transmitted through the air (aerosol) by coughing and sneezing, by direct contact with nasal discharges, or by objects contaminated with the virus (fomites). Influenza viruses affect several different animals, such as; horses, cats, dogs, birds, swine, and people. It is contagious and spreads rapidly among susceptible animals. Many influenza A viruses infect poultry. Clinical signs are mainly in chickens and turkeys.
The signs of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite, but not all dogs will show signs of illness. The severity of illness associated with canine flu in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death.
Although avian influenza A viruses usually do not infect people, rare cases of human infection with these viruses have been reported. Infected birds shed the avian influenza virus in their saliva, mucous, and feces.18 Apr 2017
There is no cure for dog flu. Treatment is supportive, and your veterinarian can advise you on the best ways to keep your dog comfortable during his illness and recovery. Some dogs may require supportive care, such as fluids, to aid their recovery, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce fevers.
What is Influenza
Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms range from mild to severe and often include fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, coughing, and fatigue. These symptoms begin from one to four days after exposure to the virus and last for about 2–8 days. Diarrhea and vomiting can occur, particularly in children.
Influenza may progress to pneumonia, which can be caused by the virus or by a subsequent bacterial infection. Other complications of infection include acute respiratory distress syndrome, meningitis, encephalitis, and worsening of pre-existing health problems such as asthma and cardiovascular disease.
There are four types of influenza virus, termed influenza viruses A, B, C, and D. Aquatic birds are the primary source of the Influenza A virus (IAV), which is also widespread in various mammals, including humans and pigs. Influenza B virus (IBV) and Influenza C virus (ICV) primarily infect humans, and Influenza D virus (IDV) is found in cattle and pigs.
IAV and IBV circulate in humans and cause seasonal epidemics, and ICV causes a mild infection, primarily in children. IDV can infect humans but is not known to cause illness. In humans, influenza viruses are primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets produced from coughing and sneezing. Transmission through aerosols and intermediate objects and surfaces contaminated by the virus also occur.
Frequent hand washing and covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing reduce transmission. Annual vaccination can help to provide protection against influenza. Influenza viruses, particularly IAV, evolve quickly, so flu vaccines are updated regularly to match which influenza strains are in circulation. Vaccines currently in use provide protection against IAV subtypes H1N1 and H3N2 and one or two IBV subtypes.
Influenza infection is diagnosed with laboratory methods such as antibody or antigen tests and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify viral nucleic acid. The disease can be treated with supportive measures and, in severe cases, with antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir. In healthy individuals, influenza is typically self-limiting and rarely fatal, but it can be deadly in high-risk groups.
In a typical year, 5–15% of the population contracts influenza. There are 3–5 million severe cases annually, with up to 650,000 respiratory-related deaths globally each year. Deaths most commonly occur in high-risk groups, including young children, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions. In temperate regions of the world, the number of influenza cases peaks during winter, whereas in the tropics influenza can occur year-round.
Since the late 1800s, large outbreaks of novel influenza strains that spread globally, called pandemics, have occurred every 10–50 years. Five flu pandemics have occurred since 1900: the Spanish flu in 1918–1920, which was the most severe flu pandemic, the Asian flu in 1957, the Hong Kong flu in 1968, the Russian flu in 1977, and the swine flu pandemic in 2009.
Influenza in Animals
The A viruses are found in many different animals, including ducks, chickens, pigs, whales, horses, seals, and cats. Influenza B viruses circulate widely only among humans.
The A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). There are 18 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 11 different neuraminidase subtypes. All known subtypes of influenza A viruses have been found among birds, except subtype H17N10 and H18N11 which have only been found in bats.
While it is unusual for people to get influenza infections directly from animals, sporadic human infections and outbreaks caused by certain avian influenza A viruses have been reported.
Here are influenza in animals:
- Bat Influenza
- Influenza in Cats
- Canine Influenza
1. Bat Influenza
Bat flu refers to influenza A viruses found in bats. It was first discovered in “little Yellow-shouldered bats” in Guatemala during a study conducted in 2009 and 2010 by experts from CDC and the Universidad del Valle (University of the Valley) in Guatemala (1).
The viruses have since been detected in some other species of bats in Central and South America (2). Laboratory research conducted at CDC and elsewhere suggests that these viruses would need to undergo significant changes to become capable of infecting and spreading easily among humans. The species of bats currently known to carry bat flu are not native to the continental United States but are common in Central and South America.
How are bat flu viruses different from other flu viruses?
The bat flu viruses discovered in Central and South America are very different from other flu viruses in humans and animals. All flu A viruses have hemagglutinin (HA) surface proteins, and until the discovery of these viruses, there were only 16 different classes (or “subtypes”) of HA proteins known to exist in nature.
The new bat flu viruses found in Central and South America are distinct enough from those pre-existing subtypes that CDC scientists have classified them as new subtypes, denoted as “H17” and “H18” (1,2). The other surface protein-coding gene of bat flu viruses, neuraminidase (NA), is extraordinarily different from that of known flu viruses, as well. It is possible this gene came from ancient bat flu viruses that are extinct or yet to be discovered. CDC scientists have proposed new designations for the NA subtypes found in bats: “N10” and “N11.”
The species of bats currently known to carry bat influenza are common in Central and South America. The first bat flu virus, IAV H17N10, was first discovered in 2009 in little Yellow-shouldered bats (Sturnira Lilium) in Guatemala. In 2012 a novel influenza virus (H18N11) was discovered in bats in South America. This strain was found to be divergent from the better-understood Influenza A viruses most commonly found in fowls and humans.
The complete sequence of IAV H17N10 was extracted from Sturnira Lilium in 2012. In 2013, the sequence of IAV H18N11 was extracted from flat-faced fruit-eating bats (Artibeus planirostris) from Peru. In contrast to human and avian influenza A viruses that use sialic acid receptors, the bat flu strains H17N10 and H18N11 infect cells by using major histocompatibility complex class II molecules on the host cell surface.
2. Influenza in Cats
Cats can be infected with influenza viruses, including avian influenza viruses, and can spread influenza viruses to each other (cat-to-cat). Influenza in cats is thought to spread the same way that human flu spreads: through direct contact through the air (droplets made from coughing or sneezing, including nasal discharge); and via contaminated surfaces (such as shared food and water bowls, cage surfaces).
Some scientific studies suggest that it is not uncommon for people to infect cats with seasonal influenza viruses. Less is known about the risk of an infected cat spreading the flu to people. Influenza infection in cats has generally resulted in mild illness in cats.
CDC believes that the risk of human infection with an influenza virus from an infected cat is low. But the risk is probably dependent on the characteristics of the virus in question and the duration and intensity of exposure.
CDC has long-standing guidance for cat owners
CDC has long-standing guidance for cat owners. Including that people wash their hands with soap. And running water after contact with cats, cat saliva, or stool. And after cleaning a litter box. These precautions are even more important for people who are at high risk of serious flu complications. Such as those who are being treated for cancer. Or who have other chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, or kidney disease women who are pregnant. Any influenza infection can be more serious in these people.
Finding a non-human (novel) influenza virus in an unexpected host (like a domestic cat) is always concerning and any human infection with a novel influenza virus is concerning as well. These incidents are carefully investigated and appropriate actions are taken to ensure that there is no ongoing spread of the novel virus among people.
3. Canine Influenza
Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. These are called “canine influenza viruses.” Dog flu is a disease of dogs. No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. There are two different influenzas A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus.
Therefore, the disease is rapidly transmitted between individual dogs. Canine influenza may be endemic in some regional dog populations of the United States. It is a disease with high morbidity (incidence of symptoms) but a low incidence of death. A newer form was identified in Asia during the 2000s and has since caused outbreaks in the US as well. It is a mutation of H3N2 that adapted from its avian influenza origins. Vaccines have been developed for both strains.
About 80% of infected dogs with H3N8 show symptoms, usually mild. And the fatality rate for Greyhounds in early outbreaks was 5 to 8%. Although the overall fatality rate in the general pet and shelter population is probably less than 1%. Symptoms of the mild form include a cough that lasts for 10 to 30 days and possibly a greenish nasal discharge.
Dogs with the more severe form may have a high fever and pneumonia. Pneumonia in these dogs is not caused by the influenza virus, but by secondary bacterial infections. The fatality rate of dogs that develop pneumonia secondary to canine influenza can reach 50% if not given proper treatment. Necropsies in dogs that die from the disease have revealed severe hemorrhagic pneumonia and evidence of vasculitis.
Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. It is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs by direct contact, nasal secretions (through barking, coughing, or sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food, and water bowls, collars, and leashes), and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Dogs of any breed, age, sex, or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.
Currently, two strains of CIV have been identified in the U.S. The H3N8 strain of canine influenza was first identified in 2004 in Florida. Since then, it has been found in several other states. In 2015, the H3N2 virus strain was identified as the cause of an outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago. The virus was known to exist in Asia, but the 2015 outbreak was the first report of the H3N2 virus affecting dogs outside of Asia.
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