A Highly Contagious Dog Flu Has Hit Florida

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

A Highly Contagious Dog Flu Has Hit Florida. Here’s What to Know

May 31, 2017

An outbreak of the dog flu, which has sickened hundreds of canines across the country over the last two years, has hit Florida for the first time. The highly contagious virus recently infected at least a dozen dogs in the Sunshine State, the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine said Wednesday. While the virus strain is not usually fatal and is not known to be transferrable to humans, it can spread rapidly and cause debilitating complications.

“There’s always that concern that another large outcome could happen again,” said Michael San Filippo, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), referring to an outbreak of the dog flu in Chicago in 2015, when hundreds of illnesses were reported. “We don’t want people to panic because typically, from what we know, it’s usually mild, although it can progress and can lead to other infections and be serious. We want to catch these things as early as possible.”

Here’s what to know about the dog flu:

What is the dog flu?

Canine influenza, more commonly known as the dog flu, is a respiratory disease that is easily spread among dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms are similar to what humans have when infected with the flu, including coughing, runny nose and fever. However, some dogs can suffer from life-threatening pneumonia. There are two different viruses, including the latest H3N2 virus, which was first detected in dogs in the U.S. in 2015. At the time, more than 1,000 illnesses were reported in Illinois, where it began, and several nearby states, according to the AVMA. At least six cases were fatal, the organization said. The affected states included Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Alabama, California, Texas, New York, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, according to Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center.

What happened in Florida?

At least 12 dogs were recently diagnosed with canine influenza after either attending two dog shows or being exposed to infected animals from the events, health officials said. The disease appears to have stemmed from a dog show in Perry, Ga. and another in Deland, Fla. — both of which took place late this month. All dogs being treated are in stable condition, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This is the first time H3N2 canine influenza has been found in the state, health officials said.

It’s unclear how many cases of canine influenza there currently are in the country, as statistics are generally tracked locally, not nationally, a ccording to Edward Dubovi, a v irology professor at Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center. The 2015 outbreak appeared to have ebbed by that October, said C olin Parrish, another virology professor at Cornell. But health officials in Chicago say the dog flu is still a problem in the area. The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association, which did not provide recent statistics, urged pet owners in March to be “vigilant” and “take necessary action steps “ to prevent their dogs from contracting the virus.

How can dog flu be prevented?

Pet owners can discuss with a veterinarian whether their dogs should be vaccinated for the virus. Dogs are at the highest risk of contracting the virus at animal shelters, boarding kennels, grooming salons, canine daycare, dog parks and other locations where the animals are in close quarters.

Zika Virus Can Trigger Epilepsy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

Zika virus can trigger epilepsy

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes can spread the Zika virus. An infected pregnant woman’s newborn can be affected and experience severe neurological birth defects.

CBS NEWS

Beyond its known links to birth defects and other problems, the Zika virus may also trigger cases of epilepsy in infants, warn experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among 48 babies from Brazil with probable congenital Zika infection, “50 percent reportedly had clinical seizures,” said Dr. Daniel Pastula, Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp and Rosemarie Kobau.

All three have studied Zika at the CDC, and co-wrote an essay on the Zika-epilepsy connection, published online April 17 in JAMA Neurology.

The Zika virus is transmitted via mosquito bites, and its most devastating effects occur when pregnant women are infected. In those cases, Zika can trigger severe neurological birth defects such as microcephaly, where infants are born with underdeveloped skulls and brains. Thousands of such cases have occurred in South America, most notably in Brazil.

And other pediatric defects and illnesses linked to Zika are emerging.

According to the CDC team, besides the group of 48 babies cited above, seven of another group of 13 Zika-exposed babies in Brazil were also diagnosed as having epilepsy.

The finding isn’t overly surprising since the types of brain abnormalities seen in Zika-affected newborns have been linked to seizures and epilepsy in the past, the team noted.

In a prior study, babies exposed to another common virus, called cytomegalovirus, had higher rates of epilepsy as well — and showed brain abnormalities that were similar to those associated with Zika.

All of this points to “the need to examine how and to what extent congenital Zika virus infection and resulting brain abnormalities are associated with seizures and/or epilepsy,” the CDC authors wrote.

Early diagnosis of affected babies is crucial, the researchers added, and may lessen “some adverse outcomes associated with developmental delay.”

Right now, parents and health care professionals may not be aware of the Zika-epilepsy link, the CDC researchers said, so cases “may be misdiagnosed or under-reported.”

The researchers believe that heightened awareness will be key to spotting cases of epilepsy linked to fetal exposure to Zika and helping babies.

In a statement, the CDC said that “better recognition, diagnosis, and reporting of seizures and epilepsy in infants and young children will help guide interventions to make sure families receive the right support and treatment.”