Apart from being quadrupedal, furry, and commonly found on your couch, cats and dogs have little in common. But the two species share one more — much less fortunate — trait: both can contract canine influenza.
Sandra Newbury DVM’03, clinical assistant professor and director of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine’s Shelter Medicine Program, confirmed earlier this year that the virus — previously confined to dogs in the Midwest — had started to spread to cats. The outbreak in canines began in the Chicago area in 2015, and it was later found in several shelter cats in Indiana. It also became clear that the virus could be passed between cats.
The effects of the virus are mainly limited to upper respiratory symptoms in cats: runny nose, congestion, and excessive salivation. The symptoms are similar in dogs, but they also include a fever. Most dogs can be treated with the H3N2 vaccine, but there is currently no vaccine available for cats. In the spring, Newbury said that all infected cats had been quarantined, and that the shelter would continue monitoring for other outbreaks.
Published in the Fall 2016 issue