Increasing the life-saving capacity of animal shelters and communities through education, shelter outreach, and development of new knowledge

FAQs: Feline infections with canine influenza H3N2 (CIV)

How many cats have been affected?

So far, eight cats have tested positive on sequential tests.  Some of the cats have shown rising viral loads over time. Other cats were affected by similar clinical signs but recovered quickly before testing and tested negative.  We are continuing to test additional cats in the shelter.

Were all the cats in the shelter affected?

Not at this time. However, most of the cats housed in a single room were affected with similar clincial signs.

Is H3N2 influenza likely to spread to cats in communities or in other shelters?

H3N2 canine influenza has been circulating for the past year in US and reports of infections in cats are very rare despite some surveillance and many instances of substantial exposure.  While it is possible for H3N2 canine influenza to infect cats, we hope infections continue to be very rare.

Is further spread to cats outside the shelter expected?

We don’t expect further spread from this occurrence but we are being cautious and watching carefully.  All of the cats and dogs have been quarantined at the shelter. Infected or exposed animals have not left the shelter.  No cats or dogs will leave the shelter until they are recovered and no longer shedding virus.

Is it likely to spread to humans?

H3N2 canine influenza has not been shown to infect humans.

What clinical signs were observed?

The clinical signs were primarily non-specific signs of upper respiratory infection in cats (URI).  The shelter was experiencing an outbreak of canine influenza H3N2.  Some of the cats were noted to be hyper-salivating and “lip smacking” as well.

Did any cats die?

No cats have died from this occurrence of the disease.  The cats are recovering relatively uneventfully with supportive care.

Did the cats have direct contact with infected dogs?

No.  The cats were housed separately from the dogs. Cat areas were cleaned prior to cleaning the dog areas.

Should we start vaccinating cats for H3N2?

There is no current vaccine approved or recommended for vaccinating cats.

What should I do if I am worried about my own cat or dog?

Seek advice from your veterinarian.  Let the veterinarian know when you make the appointment that you are concerned about CIV.  Keep your pet separated from other animals. Diagnostic testing is available through the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.

What should I do if I am worried that my shelter is experiencing infections with H3N2 influenza?

Infections in cats are very rare.  If you believe your shelter is experiencing infections, isolation of sick animals is the best prevention. Shelters with questions or concerns about outbreaks of influenza should contact UW Shelter Medicine at uwsheltermedicine@vetmed.wisc.edu