After a few December cases, H3N2 dog flu is a minor concern in Austin


It’s been roughly a month since a few cases of the H3N2 influenza virus were reported in the Austin area, which is apparently not experiencing the kind of outbreak that made more than 1,000 dogs sick last spring in Chicago.

The dog flu usually comes with mild symptoms, but it tends to spread rapidly, prompting Austin veterinarians to urge owners to be aware but not panic.

“Owners should keep an eye out for symptoms,” said Linda Czisny, a veterinarian with the Austin Animal Center. Those symptoms are much like flu symptoms in humans: coughing, running nose, lack of appetite, fever and lethargy. Still, 80 percent of cases are mild, she said, and the risk of contracting the virus can depend on whether, for example, a dog rarely leaves the house or frequents dog parks.

“Talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle,” Czisny said.

The virus doesn’t cause flu in people, according to Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health.

It is difficult to tell exactly how many cases have been reported in the Austin area. There is no clearinghouse to which veterinarians or shelters must report cases, with individual clinics often sending samples to labs in other states.

Still, an outbreak would be obvious, Czisny said. She heard of a few cases in Williamson County in December, while John Faught, the owner and medical director of Firehouse Animal Health Center in the Westlake area, heard of one last month in Pflugerville.

The H3N2 virus is different from H3N8, which caused dog flu in Austin two years ago. In the case of H3N2, veterinarians have differing opinions on whether to vaccinate, Faught said. Vaccination requires two shots, which cost $25 to $35 apiece, roughly a month apart, he said. The vaccine is readily available. Only after the second shot is a dog protected — meaning that owners aren’t vaccinating against an immediate threat.

Though some veterinarians might prefer to be extra cautious, Faught said, he is recommending a wait-and-see approach rather than “starting to vaccinate (on a wide scale) just because.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Community news: Council candidate forums Thursday night

TRAVIS COUNTY EAST AUSTIN Council candidate forums Thursday The city of Austin, in partnership with the city’s Ethics Review Commission and the League of Women Voters - Austin Area, is conducting a series of City Council candidate forums for the November municipal election. The next forums will be Thursday at the South Austin Senior Activity...
Austin man accused of threatening Taylor Swift was Eanes ISD bus driver, district says
Austin man accused of threatening Taylor Swift was Eanes ISD bus driver, district says

An Austin man accused of writing threatening letters to pop star Taylor Swift was working as a bus driver in the Eanes school district as recently as this year and in 2012, district officials said in a letter to parents and staff. Eric Swarbrick, 26, was charged on Sept. 20 with interstate stalking and instate communications with the intent to threaten...
Average Travis County tax bill to go up by $32 under new budget
Average Travis County tax bill to go up by $32 under new budget

The average homeowner will pay about $32 more to Travis County than last year for the county portion of their tax bill and about $16 more for the health district’s portion. County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $1.09 billion budget and a tax rate of 35.42 cents per $100 of taxable value. They also approved a $246 million budget and tax rate...
Cody Wilson replaced as director of 3D-printed gun company Defense Distributed 
Cody Wilson replaced as director of 3D-printed gun company Defense Distributed 

11 a.m. update: Cody Wilson has quit as CEO of the 3D-printed gun company Defense Distributed after recent sexual assault charges filed against him. During a news conference on Tuesday, Paloma Heindorff, the company’s vice president of operations, said Wilson tendered his resignation on Friday evening, and that he will have no role in the company...
‘Ben is Back,’ ‘Widows,” ‘Green Book’ to play Austin Film Festival
‘Ben is Back,’ ‘Widows,” ‘Green Book’ to play Austin Film Festival

Julia Roberts! Mahershala Ali! Mickey Rourke! Carey Mulligan! And Willie Nelson! No, it’s not the cast of the New New New Hollywood Squares (“I’ll take the Red Headed Stranger to block”). These are just a few of the stars in movies playing this year’s Austin Film Festival, which announced its full slate Tuesday. Here are...
More Stories