For the first time in the United States, the H3N2 dog flu has been detected in multiple cats, according to researchers with the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Veterinary Medicine.
The school said several cats from an animal shelter in Indiana have tested positive for the illness, which last year infected a large number of dogs in the Midwest.
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The virus was first suspected in the shelter when cats there began to show upper respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, and general malaise.
The animals also displayed H3N2 symptoms such as lip-smacking and excessive salivation.
Thus far, the illness has not caused a fatality among the cats, and symptoms have tended to run their course quickly. Similarly, most dogs recover, though the virus was said to be the cause of death in some infected canines.
The shelter has placed all of the infected cats under quarantine and the facility said no sick felines have left the facility.
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News of a U.S. outbreak of H3N2 in dogs broke last spring, with more than 1,000 canines in the Midwest testing positive for the flu. The virus - seen previously in China, Korea and Thailand - was blamed for the death of six dogs.
Until now, only a single cat in the United States had tested positive for the flu, although cases in South Korea indicated the illness could make the jump from dogs to cats.
Currently, an H3N2 vaccine only exists for dogs. UW officials recommend infected dogs and cats live separate from other animals until their symptoms subside and that anyone handling the animals should be careful not to let the virus spread via clothing and hands.
"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," said Sandra Newbury, clinical assistant professor and director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, in a statement.