Canine influenza (or dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs, but to date there is no evidence of transmission to humans. However, just because there has been no report of human infection, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Influenza viruses are constantly changing so while currently the threat is low, there still exists a possibility that the virus can change and infect humans. This is concerning since infection with a virus for which the human population has little immunity could potentially cause a pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently monitoring canine influenza H3N8 and H3N2, as well as other influenza viruses affecting animals. Dogs are highly susceptible to this infection; the virus spreads via direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions from infected dogs. The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands after exposure to dogs showing signs of the respiratory disease. While there is a vaccine that protects dogs from canine influenza A H3N8, it is unknown whether this vaccine protects against the H3N2 strain.
For more information visit CDC.gov.