Humans aren’t the only ones experiencing an outbreak of a new strain of flu virus.
Federal regulators have approved a vaccine for a new strain of flu affecting Philadelphia’s furry residents. The region has been a hot spot for canine influenza.
Dog flu was first found several years ago in greyhounds in Florida, and has since spread to 30 states. Veterinarians say it’s highly contagious, and can cause dogs to die from subsequent pneumonia infection. Dogs have been getting sick from the H3N8 strain of influenza for several years, and a New Jersey company recently received approval to sell a vaccine. Terri Wasmoen is the senior director for biological research at Intervet, which developed the shot.
Wasmoen: The vaccine is designed to limit the amount of infection that the dog gets and how sick it gets. It won’t totally prevent the dog from getting infected, but the vaccine has been shown to prevent the pneumonia very well.
Michael Moyer is the head of shelter animal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He says he recommends the shot for dogs in settings with other dogs – such as boarding kennels or foster programs.
Moyer: From the Philadelphia perspective there’s certainly a lot of influenza that we’ve seen. And I think there’s legitimate concern for dogs in this area… What concerns me is the movement of dogs from one area to another, particularly with dog rescue and foster. We have dogs traveling from one area of the country to another every week.
Moyer says the cost of vaccinating more than 30,000 dogs will make it a challenge to have widespread immunization throughout the Philadelphia shelter system. Moyer says people cannot get canine flu from their pets.