Idexx Responds to Outbreak With H3N2 Dog Flu Test

The H3N2 Influenza Virus RealPCR Test is available as a standalone and with other panels.

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A one-hour webinar focused on canine influenza virus and the newly emerged H3N2 strain will take place Friday, May 15 at noon Eastern time.

The session is intended for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

The webinar is sponsored by veterinary drug maker Zoetis Inc. and will be presented by Richard E. Goldstein, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, the chief medical officer at Animal Medical Center in New York.

Registration is available at and will close 30 minutes before the start.

Idexx Laboratories Inc. has released a diagnostic test for the H3N2 canine influenza virus less than four weeks after an outbreak began in Chicago and spread to a handful of states.

The new H3N2 Influenza Virus RealPCR Test uses throat and eye swabs to determine whether dogs are infected with the uncommon strain.

The test is available by itself or, at no additional cost, with other Idexx Comprehensive Canine Respiratory Disease (CRD) RealPCR panels, the Westbrook, Maine, company reported.

H3N2—first identified in Asia nearly a decade ago—arose in more than 1,000 Chicago-area dogs beginning April 12 and later was found in Alabama, California, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Texas and Wisconsin. A small number of dogs died from the highly contagious disease, but most are recovering.

The new test ensures that “veterinary practices across the country are equipped with the tools they need to provide the best possible care to their patients and to help contain this outbreak,” said Christian Leutenegger, DVM, Ph.D., the head of PCR molecular diagnostics at Idexx Reference Laboratories.

Signs of H3N2 infection in dogs include coughing, fever, a yellowish-green nasal discharge, dehydration and lethargy, according to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

While vaccines against the more common H3N8 dog flu virus are available, none exists for H3N2, said Colin Parrish, Ph.D., director of the Baker Institute for Animal Health at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“There are differences in the genetic sequences of the two strains that suggest that [H3N8] vaccines would be poorly effective or ineffective in protecting dogs against the H3N2 virus infecting dogs in the Midwest,” Parrish said.

H3N2 poses a slight threat to other pets, he added.

“Experiments with the strain circulating in Asia showed that under some circumstances cats living with H3N2-infected dogs could become infected,” Parrish said. “There’s also some evidence that guinea pigs and ferrets can become infected and shed the virus.

“There have been no reports or evidence that H3N2 influenza can infect humans.”

Dogs typically show signs of H3N2 two to four days after exposure, Kansas State University reported. The virus may be shed for seven to 10 days after exposure.

“Unlike human influenza, this virus is not seasonal, so it can be contracted at any time of the year,” said Susan Nelson, DVM, a clinical associate professor at Kansas State’s Veterinary Health Center. “It can live on a person’s hands for about 12 hours, so it’s important to wash your hands and use general sanitary precautions like you would to prevent the spread of the human influenza.

“Dogs that are at greatest risk for exposure to this disease are those who frequent areas where lots of dogs are in one place, like kennels, dog shows, shelters and doggie day care facilities.”

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