Canine Influenza Also Affects Cats

Cat Hangover

The viral infection, known as canine influenza, has been shown to affects cats. An outbreak at a medical center in Midwestern U.S. has confirmed the inter-species transmission. Infected animals show the ‘flu like’ symptoms of a persistent cough, runny nose and fever.

The confirmation that the virus, a concern for pet owners, is more worrying that previously realized, has been confirmed by Sandra Newbury, who is the clinical assistant professor and director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Confirmation was by genetic testing, which showed the virus from infected dogs to be the same as that sampled from infected cats.

The virus – as with all influenza types – is coded H3N2. H3N2 is a subtype of the viral genus Influenzavirus A, which is an important cause of human influenza. There are no reported links between the canine variant and human infection. The virus, known around the world (especially in Korea) for a number of years, was first detected in the U.S. in 2015.

In an interview, Newbury confirmed the dog-to-cat transmission:

“Suspicions of an outbreak in the cats were initially raised when a group of them displayed unusual signs of respiratory disease.” Here, the virus not only spread from cat to dog, but also between cats.

She adds further:

“While this first confirmed report of multiple cats testing positive for canine influenza in the U.S. shows the virus can affect cats, we hope that infections and illness in felines will continue to be quite rare.”

The animal shelter affected has imposed strict quarantine on all infected cats and dogs. A vaccine is being developed.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.