The most recent news on Canine Influenza

You may have been hearing about canine influenza, or dog flu, in the news recently and we would like to provide you the most current information.

 

The current canine influenza strain first emerged in the United States in March of 2015 with an outbreak that started in the Chicago area.  Last month, there was another emergence of the flu in the Southeast this time.   States with confirmed H3N2, a strain of the canine influenza, currently are Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. It is believed that the current outbreak started at dog shows in Perry, Georgia and Deland, Florida.  While most sick dogs recover with treatment, there have been two reported deaths of dogs from North Carolina that had attended these dog shows.

 

Canine Influenza Virus is spread through close proximity to infected dogs as it is airborne and can travel up to 20 feet. It can also be spread from contact with contaminated items like leashes, bowls and crates and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

 

Almost all dogs that are exposed to the virus become infected, with approximately 80% developing clinical symptoms. Dogs who do not have symptoms can still be carriers of the flu.  The incubation period is usually 2-4 days from exposure to showing clinical signs.

Symptoms of canine influenza are: 

  *  Dry, hacking cough (similar to kennel cough)

*    Lack of appetite

*   Lethargy

*    Discharge from the nose or eyes

*    Fever (normal temperature is 101 – 102)

 

Diagnosis cannot be done solely on clinical signs because the symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses.  Testing to confirm the flu varies depending on the time of visit to the vet and onset of symptoms. Treatment for the flu is largely supportive care including fluids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce fever and inflammation. Antibiotics are used to control secondary bacterial infection if needed, but antibiotics do not treat viruses. Most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks.

 

At North Elm, we have influenza vaccines available but are not currently recommending vaccinating every dog. We do recommend vaccinating dogs that go to dog shows, agility trials, or other such events. Some doggy day care facilities are suggesting the vaccine, but we are not requiring it for admittance to our hospital. We are however, taking careful travel histories on pets coming into NEAH. We will be be carefully monitoring the reported cases and may change our recommendations if needed.  Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about canine influenza or are wondering whether your dog should be vaccinated. The vaccine is a series of two vaccines given three weeks apart. 

 

Resources consulted:  Canine Influenza, https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx?PF=1

Canine influenza one year later, http://www.aaha.org/blog/NewStat/post/2017/01/02/093653/Canine-Influenza-H3N2-One-Year-Later.aspx

Canine influenza virus notice, http://www.akc.org/content/news/articles/canine-influenza-virus-notice/ 

  

 

 

 

 

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