You’ve probably heard by now about the outbreak of the Canine Influenza Virus, mainly it hit the Chicago, IL area hard with over 1000 dogs sick and 5 that have died, Chicago has been the first outbreak in the US from the H3N2 strain. They are calling this a outbreak that may last several weeks. There has been one case diagnosed in Madison, WI last week, a dog that traveled to Chicago as well as cases in Indiana and Iowa. CIV is a highly contagious virus which was discovered in 2004, the CIV strains have been identified as H3N8 and H3N2. The disease also has a higher mortatlity rate in young and older or immunosuppressed dogs.
Merck Animal Heath sent out this helpful sheet to our vet clinic.
Tips to Protect Your Dog from Dog Flu (Canine Influenza)
Between March 16 and April 1, 2015, Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) has been positively diagnosed in 89 dogs in the Chicago area. Canine influenza virus causes a respiratory infection in dogs that is often referred to as canine influenza or “dog flu.” Canine influenza virus was first isolated in Florida in 2004 at a Greyhound racing facility. Since then, the virus has been confirmed in dogs across 40 states and the District of Columbia. Since it is a relatively new virus, almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when they are newly exposed because they have not built up natural immunity.
Most infected dogs show only mild symptoms, but some dogs become very sick and require veterinary treatment. Most common clinical signs include lethargy, anorexia, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, and cough. Dogs with more severe disease can present with a high fever and pneumonia.
What You Need to Know and Do
- CIV is not the same as Bordetella and Bordetella is not the only pathogen that causes kennel cough.
- Canine influenza is highly infectious and the virus spreads very quickly from dog to dog.
- Canine influenza virus can be spread by direct contact with respiratory discharge from infected dogs, through the air via a cough, bark, or sneeze, and by contact with contaminated objects such as dog bowls and clothing.
- To prevent the spread of disease, wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with dogs.
- Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus.
- Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog has the following symptoms:
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy/lack of energy
- Canine influenza can be prevented through vaccination. Talk to your veterinarian about whether or not your pet is at risk. Merck Animal Health offers a Canine influenza vaccine which is available through veterinarians.
- Information on Merck Novibac Canine Influenza Vaccine can be viewed here.
Should you be worried and what should you do about it?
If your dog(s) don’t come in contact with other dogs especially in close confinement (dog performance events, groomer, doggy daycare, boarding, training class, dog shows) then you probably don’t have much to worry about unless you work in any of these area’s where an infectious dog may be and you bring the virus home on your hands or clothing. If you work in any of these area’s or your dog(s) will be in these area’s or staying for any length of time then I suggest you talk to your Veterinarian about getting the CIV vaccine. Since I train with a training group, bring my dog’s to work when needed and participate in performance events I did vaccinate my dog’s this week. Now remember when you do get the vaccination done for your dog it doesn’t work immediately, after the first shot the body is building up immunity but until you get that second vaccination and until two weeks later your dog won’t be protected so you still need to stay away from high risk areas. The vaccine currently offers protection against the H3N8 strain, the Midwest outbreak is the H3N2 Asian strain. They are hoping there will be some crossover protection but can’t be certain.
Canine Influenza FAQ ~ AVMA
Canine Influenza ~ AVMA
Dog Flu: Canine Influenza ~ Huffington Post
Key points from this link if you don’t have a chance to view it:
Morbidity: 20-50 percent of the dogs exposed to this virus will make antibodies against this virus and will successfully clear the infection. These pets will not show overt signs of their infection.
50-80 percent of the dogs exposed to the virus will show flu like symptoms — like fever, lethargy, coughing and purulent nasal discharge. A small percentage of these pets will develop pneumonia and it is this population that is at risk for death.
Mortality: 5-8 percent.
Most pets will recover with supportive care only.
Incubation Period: 2-5 days.
Length of Infection: 2 weeks.
Immunity: Dogs that recover from Canine Influenza are believed to be protective for 2 years. A Canine Influenza (H3N8) vaccine exists and aids in reducing the shedding and severity of the infection. This vaccine does NOT prevent the disease. The vaccine is given in two doses separated by 2-3 weeks. Yearly re-vaccination is recommended for high-risk dogs.
Hopefully this outbreak will subside soon and no more dogs become sick or die. Be proactive on keeping your gang safe.
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