Highly contagious dog flu spreading across Austin-area

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A dog flu is spreading throughout Central Texas according to area veterinarians.

Dr. Taia Lubitz says a strain of canine influenza known as H3N2 has returned to Central Texas and is highly contagious, spreading through the area’s canine population.

“Virtually 100 percent of dogs who are exposed to the virus will contract the virus,” said Dr. Lubitz. “Eighty percent of those dogs will show illness.”

Jofka Forman-Clinton says her nearly 2-year-old mastiff, Hans, contracted the virus last summer.

“Despite having been inoculated for everything under the sun he still managed to pick up some strange strain of whatever is going around,” she said.

Dr. Lubitz says vaccinating your dog doesn’t not completely protect them from contracting the virus. She says H3N2 is rarely deadly. It can be fatal if symptoms aren’t treated.

Symptoms of H3N2 are coughing, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, decreased energy and fever in the more extreme cases. Dr. Lubitz says the dogs most vulnerable are ones that are constantly around other dogs. Avoiding places like dog parks, kennels, boarding facilities, grooming facilities, will decrease the chances of your dog getting sick.

Forman-Clinton says after watching Hans suffer last year, she’ll be careful to not put him at risk again now.

“It’s very important to us to keep our dog well socialized and out and about and playing and it really sucks that we can’t do that worry-free and give him the opportunities that he needs without worrying that he could get sick,” she said.

Dr. Lubitz tells us there are seven confirmed cases H3N2 in Texas since June. One of those cases are from Travis County. She says that number does not show the scope of the problem because dog owners often don’t realize their dog is sick, so many cases of the illness go unreported.

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