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

Dump truck driver fled after North Austin crash that severely injured man, police say
Dump truck driver fled after North Austin crash that severely injured man, police say

A dump truck driver fled after he was involved in a crash on Interstate 35 that was reported early Monday, Austin police said. The driver, 30-year-old Elieser Samora, is charged with failure to stop and render aid after an accident involving serious bodily injury. A 28-year-old man had severe brain damage after the crash and is currently in critical...
Abbott asks disgraced congressman to foot bill for special election
Abbott asks disgraced congressman to foot bill for special election

Gov. Greg Abbott wants Blake Farenthold to foot the bill for a special election the governor has called to replace the disgraced former congressman. Abbott on Wednesday sent a letter to Farenthold, a Corpus Christi Republican who resigned from Congress in early April amid sexual harassment claims, demanding that he cover all costs for the upcoming...
Police: Former Adidas employee stole $2,600 from Round Rock store
Police: Former Adidas employee stole $2,600 from Round Rock store

A former employee of an Adidas shoe store at the Round Rock outlet mall has been accused of stealing $2,600 from the store, an arrest affidavit said. Frank Rodriguez III, of San Marcos, was charged with theft, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail. An Adidas regional loss prevention manager told police he found $2,600 missing from...
Man seriously injured after crashing into tree at Burleson Road, Metropolis Drive
Man seriously injured after crashing into tree at Burleson Road, Metropolis Drive

A man has potentially life-threatening injuries after he crashed into a tree at Burleson Road and Metropolis Drive on Wednesday evening, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Medics responded at 6:27 p.m. The man, estimated to be in his 20s, was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. 
Austin man charged with online solicitation of a minor
Austin man charged with online solicitation of a minor

An Austin man sent nude pictures of himself to a police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl online, an arrest affidavit released this week said. Charles Cantu, 25, was charged with online solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail. A Georgetown police officer posted an ad on Craigslist posing as a 15-year-old...
More Stories