Update on Canine Respiratory Disease and Canine influenza virus

Since 2005, the H3N8 strain of influenza A virus (originally an equine virus) has been identified as a cause of respiratory disease in dogs. During the first quarter of 2015, a new strain of influenza virus (H3N2) was detected in cases of canine respiratory disease in the Chicago area. Both viruses do not cause human disease. However, the newly-identified canine H3N2 virus also causes disease in cats, whereas the original canine H3N8 virus appears to be restricted to dogs.

The UGA Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories in Athens and Tifton offer a PCR test that detects all strains of type A influenza virus, including these new strains. So far, testing in our laboratories have not detected canine influenza virus in dog cases from the state of Georgia. However, our testing of samples from dogs with respiratory illness in Georgia has detected three well-known agents typically associated with kennel cough: Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine adenovirus-2, and Mycoplasma. It is important to note that signs of Canine influenza virus infection are similar to those caused by more well-known pathogens of kennel cough and include cough, runny nose, fever, and lethargy.

Because many viral and bacterial agents can cause canine respiratory disease, we recommend that dogs exhibiting upper respiratory illness should be tested for multiple agents in order to identify the exact cause. Our laboratory offers a canine respiratory PCR test panel, which includes tests for Influenza A (i.e., all type A influenza viruses including the old and new canine strains), Bordetella bronchiseptica, Mycoplasma spp, Canine adenovirus-2, Canine distemper, and Canine coronavirus. We also offer a feline respiratory PCR test panel, which includes: Feline herpesvirus, Chlamydophila felis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Mycoplasma, Influenza A, and Feline calicivirus. Adequate samples for both test panels are nasopharyngeal swabs or lavages in viral transport media or in sterile saline shipped cold (ice packs) for overnight delivery. We can also test post-mortem respiratory tissues (lung and trachea). Samples can be submitted through our courier in the Greater Atlanta Area, or with prepaid UPS shipping labels from anywhere.

Please call us at 706-542-5568 to request a shipping label, with any other questions, or visit us online at ugavetlab.org for additional information.

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