by ANDREW M. STREIBER, DVM
Q: With all the reports last year of a new strain of canine influenza infecting dogs across the United States, I’m wondering what symptoms I should be aware of in my dogs, and if humans are able to contract this particular strain?
A: The viruses of which you speak, known by two distinct proteins on their outer layer, are the H3N8 and H3N2 influenza viruses. They are distinguished from their human influenza virus counterparts by the fact that they are unique and distinct variants (or subtypes) of those known to human medicine.
The H3N8 virus was first discovered over forty years ago, while the H3N2 virus was elucidated more recently. Both viruses have origins in Asia: H3N2 in China and H3N8 in South Korea. Viruses are known for their ability to survive outside of their host for varying amounts of time, allowing them to travel. In the United States, the H3N2 subtype was first found in racehorses that had been racing at a specific track in Florida in the late 1990s. By 2004, it “jumped” to a colony of racing greyhound dogs, also racing at the same track. The virus, a disease of the upper respiratory tract, is spread intra-species via nose-to-nose contact, coughing, sneezing or contact with an inanimate object on which the disease may have settled. Once the greyhounds contracted the disease, H3N8 spread across the country, arriving in California around 2008. Fortunately, a vaccine already existed for that particular canine strain and dogs could be easily protected.
The H3N2 canine influenza virus (CIV) is a more recent, and a far more virulent (infectious) strain than the H3N8 virus. Like its predecessor, H3N2 is a variant (or subtype) virus, and causes an upper respiratory infection. The symptoms are similar – lethargy, inappetence, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, etc. — but the clinical disease this strain may cause can be worse than the H3N8, even, in rare instances, resulting in death. In the United States, H3N2 was first discovered in Illinois in April 2015. Also fast moving, H3N2 spread to California by the fall. Fortunately a vaccine exists for this strain as well, so dogs can be easily protected.
The bottom line for these strains of CIV is this: they are both influenza viruses, they present classic symptoms as a typical “flu” would, our canine population can be easily protected by being vaccinated, and to date no human has been diagnosed with a variant of either.
I hope this aids in your understanding of these diseases and helps put your mind at ease regarding the risk to you and your dogs.
Yahoo reports on Lynea Lattanzi, who founded the amazing Northern California cat sanctuary, Cat House on the Kings. Adopt a cat!
Lynea Lattanzio has no problem calling herself a crazy cat lady. With more than 1,000 cats living with her, there’s really no denying it.
“I’m gonna say that I’m at the top of the list of the eccentric, crazy cat ladies,” Lattanzio says.
She says she has taken in and lived with, at some point, 28,000 cats total. At the moment, she has a mere 800 adult cats and 300 kittens.
Lattanzio runs – and lives at – the Cat House on the Kings, California’s largest cage-free, no-kill sanctuary for abandoned and feral cats: 12 fenced-in acres near Fresno on the Kings River.
When she was first starting out, she lived in the big main house. But with 60 cats in her bedroom, not to mention dogs, she decided that was too much; “there wasn’t room for me anymore.” The sheer volume of cat forced Lattanzio into a mobile home on the property.
The ESAH is proud to be a contributing sponsor to this fun event — join us, this weekend!
The annual South Bay Chili Cook Off on January 30 from 2-4pm is presented by NWC to benefit the Manhattan Beach Firefighters’ Burn Foundation. Held at the Manhattan Beach Fire Station on 15th Street executive and local chefs compete for bragging rights for the top three “Best Chilis” in three categories as voted for by attendees and the firemen. Open to children of all ages and adults, the afternoon offers beverages, desserts, a DJ and best of all, interaction with the firefighters from 2-4pm. Tickets are $25 and children under 8 are free.
FALKOR!Eighteen month-old Falkor is a 9 pound Persian Longhair from Hermosa Beach.
Author Mimi Matthews has a brilliant blog that includes articles on the history of dogs and cats. Check out this terrific report about the first cat show, an event which took place 145 years ago at the Crystal Palace in London…
In 1871, at the instigation of cat fancier Harrison Weir, the first ever cat show was held in England. The concept was a novel one. At the time, there were no breed registries for cats and no precise standards on which to judge them. However, Weir was nothing if not persuasive. Within days of having first broached the subject with the manager of the Crystal Palace in Sydenham, London, Weir presented his full scheme, including the schedule of prizes, price of entry, number of classes, and even the points by which the cats would be judged.
The cats were to be divided into diffeent varieties of color, form, size and sex. Coat patterns such as tabby and tortoiseshell would also be represented. All that remained was to find the cats to participate in the show. With no breeders to approach and a lack of people willing to part with their pet cats for any length of time, Weir and the representatives of the Crystal Palace “went forth into the highways and byways on the lookout for presentable animals.”
Despite their efforts, the quota of cats necessary for the cat show had still not been met. In an article in the 1891 issue of Pearson’s Magazine, writer G. B. Burgin relates how this shortage was resolved. He writes:
“Then someone discovered that the Palace cellars were full of cats and kittens and mice, so a few workmen were set to work cat-hunting there. The workmen also brought their own cats to the show.”
The domestic cats on display were supplemented by examples of cats both rare and exotic. There was a Manx from the Isle of Man, a Persian cat “direct from Persia,” and an enormous English cat weighing in at 21 pounds who was, according to the 1871 issue of Harper’s Weekly, “the biggest in the show.” Of particular note, the first two Siamese cats ever seen in the country were also on exhibit. Harper’s describes them as:
“…soft, fawn-colored creatures, with jet-black legs – an unnatural, nightmare kind of cat, singular and elegant in their smooth skins, and ears tipped with black, and blue eyes with red pupils.”Perhaps the most exciting addition to the cat show was a British wildcat exhibited by the Duke of Sutherland. According to Harper’s Weekly, this variety of wildcat was almost extinct in the British Islands. And the duke’s cat was truly wild. Harper’s states:
“He behaved like a mad devil, and ten men could not get him into a wire cage out of the box in which he was sent.”
The 1871 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine reports that there were 211 cats on exhibition at the cat show at the Crystal Palace – many of them “torn from their domestic hearths.” Harper’s Weekly reports a lower number, stating that there were 160 specimens of cat at the cat show. Regardless of the precise number, the event required that those 150+ cats remain in their cages and on public display. Writing for Lippincott’s, Prentice Mulford relates:
“They were separately confined in two rows of tin cages wired in front. We who came to gaze, being marshaled in line under the surveillance of a policeman, were made to march slowly up in front of one row of cats and down the other, the cages being placed back to back. If any lingered by some more attractive cat, the man in authority cried out, as in the streets of London, ‘Move on!’”
Harrison Weir believed the cats to be perfectly content. Describing the scene that met his eyes upon arriving at the Crystal Palace the morning of the cat show, he states:
“Instead of the noise and struggles to escape, there lay the cats in their different pens, reclining on crimson cushions, making no sound save now and then a homely purring, as from time to time they lapped the nice new milk provided for them.”