Canine Influenza Virus Found in Cats


 The following article is a re-print of one posted earlier this week on the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) website.  The SVM’s Dr. Sandra Newbury and WVDL’s Dr. Kathy Toohey-Kurth have recently found a group of cats from an Indiana animal shelter to be infected with the canine influenza virus (CIV).   The complete article follows.


UW Shelter Medicine, WVDL find canine influenza transmitted to cats in Midwestern shelter

CONTACT: Sandra Newbury, 608-335-2122,

MADISON – It may be called canine influenza, but Sandra Newbury, clinical assistant professor and director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine has confirmed that the virus that sickened a large number of dogs in the Midwest last year has now infected a group of cats in the region.

Newbury, in collaboration with Kathy Toohey-Kurth, virology section head at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, recently tested multiple cats at an animal shelter in Northwest Indiana and found them positive for the H3N2 canine influenza virus.

“Suspicions of an outbreak in the cats were initially raised when a group of them displayed unusual signs of respiratory disease,” Newbury says. “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.”

Feline cases previously reported in South Korea suggested that the virus – which was not seen in the U.S. until 2015 – was capable of making the leap from dogs to cats. However, just one cat tested positive for H3N2 on a single occasion in the U.S. last year. In that case, no repeated sampling was done because the sample was not known to be positive until long after the cat’s symptoms had resolved.

It now appears the virus can replicate and spread from cat to cat.

“Sequential sampling of these individual cats have shown repeated positives and an increase in viral loads over time,” Toohey-Kurth says, referring to the amount of virus found in any given sample.

Preliminary work to study the genetic signature of the virus shows it to be identical to the H3N2 virus that infects dogs. Researchers at WVDL are currently completing a full genetic analysis and study of the virus.

Newbury and the UW Shelter Medicine team are working closely with the animal shelter to manage the influenza outbreak. A number of dogs at the shelter have also tested positive for the virus.

“At this time, all of the infected cats have been quarantined, and no infected cats or dogs have left this shelter,” Newbury says.  “We will continue to watch carefully for instances of the disease.”

Cats that have contracted the virus in the shelter have displayed upper respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and general malaise, as well as lip smacking and excessive salivation. Symptoms have resolved quickly, and so far, the virus has not been fatal in cats.

Infected dogs may develop a persistent cough, runny nose and fever. Some dogs will show no symptoms, while others exhibit more severe signs of illness. The virus has been linked to some deaths in dogs, but most dogs recover with supportive care.

Dogs and cats infected with canine influenza virus should be housed separately from other animals and precautions should be taken to prevent spread of the virus on hands and clothing.

An H3N2 vaccine is now available for dogs, but no vaccine is currently approved or recommended for cats. A veterinarian can recommend whether or not to seek an H3N2 canine influenza vaccine for dogs.

Visit the WVDL website for more information about sampling and testing for canine influenza.  Shelters can also contact the UW Shelter Medicine Program with testing inquiries or questions regarding canine influenza. More details about the program’s partnership to provide diagnostic testing for shelters can be found here.

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— Ashley Voss,, 608-262-3425

Canine Influenza Cases Confirmed in Wisconsin



Photo courtesy of SPCA

Wisconsin Dog owners should be aware that several canine influenza virus (CIV) cases have been confirmed in Wisconsin since the beginning of the year.

This virus is very easily spread and respiratory symptoms can persist for up to 3 weeks.  In some dogs these symptoms may be severe, leading to pneumonia and hospitalization.

Through participation in the National Canine Influenza Taskforce, the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has been able to confirm the following information regarding canine influenza (CIV) activity in Wisconsin in the first three months of 2016:


January 2016

  • 6 cases of H3N2 in Racine by PCR
  • 1 case of H3N2 in Milwaukee by PCR
  • 1 case of H3N2 in Green Bay by PCR

February 2016

  • 3  confirmed H3N2 cases in the Green Bay area and 1 in Racine tested by PCR
  • 10 cases in Green Bay with serological positive results indicative of past exposure to H3N2

March 2016

  • 3 cases in Green Bay with serological positive results indicative of past exposure to H3N2


Quick reference for small animal practitioners can be found here:

The WVDL, along with multiple other veterinary diagnostic laboratories can perform CIV testing from nasal swabs.  It is important that the swabs are NOT cotton or have wood sticks.

If viral media is not available, please submit the swab in 1 ml of sterile saline. At the WVDL, CIV testing can be done as a single test or as part of a respiratory panel. If positive for CIV, the virus will be typed to determine if it is H3N2 or H3N8.


Please contact us at any time with questions and see our website for submission details:

We will send out additional information as laboratories report their results to the Taskforce.


WVDL collaborates with DNR on unexplained elk deaths

WVDL collaborates with DNR on unexplained elk deaths


photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is undertaking an effort to reintroduce elk to the central part of the state and to supplement the current herd in Clam Lake.  The reintroduction effort is headed by the WDNR and multiple partner organizations. The elk originate from a stable population in Kentucky and this year were moved to, and will ultimately be released in, the central forest region in Jackson County.

In January of 2015, WDNR and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife staff captured and started the health testing and quarantine process to relocate the elk to Wisconsin. The team provided constant oversight of husbandry and animal health, drawing upon previous experience moving elk to other states, such as Missouri and Virginia, from Kentucky.

With heightened awareness and measures to minimize stress, which is very important when handling wildlife, 26 elk arrived safety to a specially built quarantine pen in Jackson County on March 26th, 2015.  The elk all appeared well for the first three weeks they were in Wisconsin, but the next week, five animals died acutely.  In total, four calves and one cow had died and their bodies transported to WVDL. The gross necropsy offered little evidence for the cause of death with exception of one of the animals that had gross findings consistent with a hemolytic disease process. Drs. Melissa Behr, Christine Watson, Raman Muthuswamy, and Phil Bochsler all worked on the cases.

Extensive diagnostic testing in the virology, bacteriology, and combined molecular biology sections were inconclusive. Through a collaborative effort with Dr. Pat Holman Laboratory at Texas A&M and the Vector Borne Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at North Carolina State University, Babesia odocoilei was diagnosed.  This pathogen is a protozoan parasite that infects red blood cells and is spread by ticks.

The red blood cell parasite has been previously reported in North American elk in multiple states and the white tailed deer is considered its predominant reservoir. In Wisconsin, it has been identified in captive elk and reindeer as well as ticks. Treatment is possible, but not straightforward and the next challenge for the elk team and WDNR wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Lindsey Long, is evaluating individual elk susceptibility and appropriate management strategies in a population destined to be free-ranging in the forests of Wisconsin.

To read more about the WDNR’s effort to reintroduce elk into Jackson County, Wisconsin click here:

Diagnostic Submission Guidelines for Enteric Disease

Diagnostic Submission Guidelines: Enteric Disease        

Dr. Donald Sockett Veterinary Microbiologist DVM, Univ. of Guelph, 1981 PhD, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1991 Diplomate, A.C.V.I.M.

Dr. Donald Sockett
Veterinary Microbiologist
DVM, Univ. of Guelph, 1981
PhD, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1991
Diplomate, A.C.V.I.M.

Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
December, 2014
by Dr. Donald Sockett

The best samples are those that are collected within 4-8 hours of the animal’s death. Delays in sample collection decrease the probability of obtaining useful diagnostic information. Veterinarians should submit both fresh and formalin fixed tissues from any organ that has gross lesions. See chart below for information on tissue types and how tissues should be collected and submitted to WVDL.

*Since the formalin jars tend to leak; please place the formalin jar inside a Ziploc® bag. If it is not possible to place the tissues in formalin at the time of sample collection, WVDL staff will do it for you. Please keep in mind the tissue samples will be more autolyzed and less diagnostic for histopathology when formalin fixation is delayed. A 2 x 2 x 1 cm piece of tissue from all the organs listed below should be placed in formalin. The ratio should be 9 parts formalin to 1 part tissue for proper fixation. The WVDL recommends using a 16-ounce wide-mouthed jar that contains 8 ounces of 10% buffered formalin (Fischer catalog # 23-426-797).








Shipping Requirements

  • Veterinarians should completely fill out the WVDL General Submission Form which includes the age of the animal.  An electronic copy is available at Click on the forms link to download the submission form.
  • The laboratory should receive the samples within 24-36 hours. See our website for discounted, expedited shipping options.
  • Package the samples with a sufficient number of ice packs to ensure they remain cold during shipment.
  • Clients should schedule shipments to avoid weekend and holiday delivery of samples to the laboratory.


WVDL Staff Member Leads the Way in Electron Microscopy

Craig Radi and the WVDL are National Leaders in Transmission Electron Microscopy

WVDL senior microbiologist Craig Radi started the only TEM proficiency program in the United States about seven years ago.  Now there are 18 labs participating Radiacross the nation including labs in Hawaii and provinces in Canada. In 2013, Craig presented a poster about the program at the Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Due to the high praise and encouragement from the publication, the poster was adapted into a publication in Microscopy Today.  Our hats are off to Craig and the WVDL team members, Dr. Kathy Kurth and Audrey Dikkeboom, and Dr. Sara Miller at Duke University who made this all possible.

The article, entitled ‘Keeping Up Electron Microscopy Diagnostic Skills in a PCR World’,  can be found here:

State-of-the-art MALDI-TOF Technology at WVDL Identifies Emerging Bacterial Pathogens

State-of-the-art MALDI-TOF Technology at WVDL Identifies Emerging Bacterial Pathogens


WVDL Microbiologist Maureen Peterson

The Microbiology Section at WVDL has been using a MALDI-TOF machine to rapidly and accurately identify bacterial pathogens for several months now, starting in the spring of 2014. MALDI-TOF is a matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization/mass spectrometry machine that identifies bacteria based on their unique signature.   Along with the usual pathogens the MALDI-TOF unit has been identifying several emerging bacterial mastitis pathogens, such as Lactococcus garvieae, which is aiding bovine veterinarians to improve milk quality and profitability on Wisconsin Dairies.

Contact the WVDL if you receive a culture result with a microbial species that is new to your practice for more information.


The following is a recent article from Veterinary Microbiology highlighting the MALDI-TOF’s ability to speciate hard to identify Corynebacterium spp

Vet Microbiol. 2014 Sep 17;173(1-2):147-51. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2014.06.028. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Identification of Corynebacterium spp. isolated from bovine intramammary infections by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry.

Author information: Gonçalves JL1, Tomazi T1, Barreiro JR1, Braga PA2, Ferreira CR2, Araújo Junior JP3, Eberlin MN2, Santos MV4.


Corynebacterium species (spp.) are among the most frequently isolated pathogens associated with subclinical mastitis in dairy cows. However, simple, fast, and reliable methods for the identification of species of the genus Corynebacterium are not currently available. This study aimed to evaluate the usefulness of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization/mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for identifying Corynebacterium spp. isolated from the mammary glands of dairy cows. Corynebacterium spp. were isolated from milk samples via microbiological culture (n=180) and were analyzed by MALDI-TOF MS and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Using MALDI-TOF MS methodology, 161 Corynebacterium spp. isolates (89.4%) were correctly identified at the species level, whereas 12 isolates (6.7%) were identified at the genus level. Most isolates that were identified at the species level with 16 S rRNA gene sequencing were identified as Corynebacterium bovis (n=156; 86.7%) were also identified as C. bovis with MALDI-TOF MS. Five Corynebacterium spp. isolates (2.8%) were not correctly identified at the species level with MALDI-TOF MS and 2 isolates (1.1%) were considered unidentified because despite having MALDI-TOF MS scores >2, only the genus level was correctly identified. Therefore, MALDI-TOF MS could serve as an alternative method for species-level diagnoses of bovine intramammary infections caused by Corynebacterium spp.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


WVDL A National Leader in CWD Testing



Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Did you know that the WVDL tests for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in wild deer from Wisconsin and from five other states and farmed deer from 13 other states? The TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) laboratory at the WVDL was formed in 2002 in response to the discovery of CWD in Wisconsin. In 2013, WVDL tested 6,592 CWD samples for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (356 were test positive).

In addition to CWD, other types of TSE such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE/mad cow disease) and scrapie (a disease of sheep) are tested at WVDL as part of national surveillance programs.

As mentioned previously, the WVDL does CWD testing for many states around the country, including Arkansas.  The Razorback state recently posted this article regarding CWD in its state deer population.



Equine Herpes Virus in Wisconsin

Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1)

EHV-1 can cause respiratory disease, abortions and occasionally neurological disease in horses as well. There are strain variants, one of which is more strongly associated with neurologic disease (neuroparalytic strain); however at least 25% of horses with neurologic disease do not have the neurologic strain.

Recently, horses in Minnesota and Wisconsin have developed hind limb paralysis and have tested positive by real time PCR for EHV-1. The WVDL offers a real time PCR for EHV-1, and it has the capability to differentiate between the wild type and the neurotropic strains of EHV-1. Veterinarians should submit nasal swabs that are placed in viral transport media or in 1 ml of sterile saline from acutely affected horses to the WVDL for testing. Samples should be sent over-night to the Madison laboratory with a sufficient number of ice-packs to keep the samples cold during shipment to the laboratory. Do not use cotton tipped swabs or swabs with wooden shafts because they contain bleach which may interfere with the PCR assay and cause a false negative test. Results are available within 1-3 business days after receipt of the samples. Veterinarians can order swabs and viral transport media from the WVDL. Please call 1-800-608-8387 and ask for the supply room.


WVDL No Longer Offers Brucellosis RAP Test


Rap Test No Longer Offered

The BAPA test is now the official Brucellosis screening test used at the WVDL. The RAP test will no longer be offered. Discontinuation of the RAP at the WVDL should not pose any difficulty for our submitters. Use of the BAPA will meet all the requirements for an official Brucellosis screening test for B abortis, B suis, and B mellitensis. Please note that the BAPA test is not suitable for serologic screening for Brucella ovis or B canis. Testing for these two organisms requires alternate tests.

Brucellosis screening can be requested by using the Serology & Multiple Test Submission Form (available on the WVDL website: Mark the box selecting “Bruc/BAPA.” Additional information on the BAPA test is available on our website.

Please note that the Standard Tube Test (STT) and Standard Plate Test are (SPT) are not screening tests for Brucellosis. These tests should only be requested if they are a specified test requirement.

Please contact us if you have questions or concerns.