APRIL 14, 2015 UPDATE: Laboratory scientists have confirmed that the flu affecting dogs in Chicago is not H3N8. It is H3N2, a strain from Asia that has previously not been seen in the United States.
Five dogs in the Chicago area have died since January from H3N8, a type of respiratory flu that is highly contagious to other dogs, but not to humans. Thousands of cases have been diagnosed in the last few months, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Yesterday, a dog in Madison, Wisc. — about 150 miles north of Chicago — was diagnosed with H3N8.
“Canine influenza has been confirmed in a patient in the Madison area,” stated the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in an advisory.
Dr. Jerry Klein, supervising veterinarian for the Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center, described the spread of the dog flu as near-epidemic. “In my 35 years, this is the worst outbreak,” he told WLNS.
The first outbreak of canine influenza occurred back in 2004, when Greyhounds at a racing track in Florida became ill, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Since then, the flu has been reported in 30 states.
The current outbreak is expected to last for a few more weeks.
Photo credit: Dylan Tweney