The ASPCA has launched a national disease investigation initiative regarding canine influenza (CIV). Funded by the Morris Animal Foundation, the three-year study will help shelters develop effective testing and control methods to limit the effects of the H8N3 virus commonly known as the dog flu. Under the direction of Dr. Miranda Spindel, ASPCA Director of Veterinary Outreach and Dr. Gabriele Landolt of Colorado State University’s Department of Clinical Science, the initiative will collaborate with ASPCA shelters in Florida, Texas, California, South Carolina, New York, and Colorado where the disease is most prevalent.
First discovered in Greyhounds at a Florida racetrack, the virus has spread widely among dogs in the United States since 2004. Transmitted through droplets created by coughing and sneezing, the disease spreads easily among dogs that are in close contact or closed environments. Animal shelters report the highest incidence of canine influenza transmission and the ASPCA’s new study aims to bring this issue to resolve.
As CIV spreads among shelter dogs, the groundbreaking study will evaluate whether a rapid test can be used for effectively screening dogs as they enter a shelter. Should such an exam become possible, each new arrival could be tested before entering the main shelter population and ultimately prohibit the introduction of CIV.
Scientists will continue studying CIV strands to monitor changes or mutations it may undergo over time. Once ASPCA’s study gains information about the evolution of CIV in animal shelters, the transmission and prevention of this disease will be controlled through the development, improvement and use of vaccines.
For more information, visit ASPCA.org. —Megan Bender