You may have heard something recently in the media about the Canine Influenza outbreak in the Chicago area. At this point, you do not need to be concerned for your dogs in our local area. If at any time it becomes something that you should be concerned about, we will post it on our website and Facebook pages.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and patient history. The PCR test common in veterinary laboratories detects the H3N8 virus and will not detect H3N2 virus. Specific testing for the H3N2 virus is currently being developed.

Symptoms:

Both Influenza strains can cause high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy. Symptoms may be more severe in cases caused by the H3N2 virus. Some infected dogs may not show symptoms at all.

Transmission:

Canine influenza is spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions, contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The virus can remain viable (alive and able to infect) on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.

Morbidity and Mortality:

The morbidity rate (the number of exposed animals that develop disease) associated with canine influenza is estimated at 80%. Deaths occur mainly in dogs with the severe form of disease; the mortality rate is low (less than 10%). Deaths are usually caused by secondary complications, such as pneumonia. Higher case fatality rates have been reported in small groups of greyhounds that developed hemorrhagic pneumonia during outbreaks.

Prevention and control:

The Canine Influenza vaccine that is available is effective against H3N8. The virus causing the outbreak in Chicago is H3N2. Therefore, the H3N8 vaccine likely will not protect against H3N2, but research is still underway. The vaccine H3N8 is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with CI virus infection. Although the vaccine may not prevent infection altogether, efficacy trials have shown that the vaccination may significantly reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness, including the incidence and severity of damage to the lungs. In addition, the vaccine reduces the amount of virus shed and shortens the shedding interval; therefore, vaccinated dogs that become infected develop less severe illness and are less likely to spread the virus to other dogs.

The canine influenza virus appears to be easily killed by disinfectants commonly used in facilities such as quaternary ammonium compounds, aldehydes, phenols and bleach solutions. Thoroughly clean and disinfect cages, bowls and other surfaces between uses.

Employees should wash their hands with soap and water:

  • before and after handling each dog
  • after coming into contact with dogs’ saliva, urine, feces, or blood
  • after cleaning cages
  • upon arriving at and before leaving the facility

Dogs showing clinical signs of respiratory disease should be isolated. Sick or exposed dogs should be isolated for two weeks. Clothing, equipment, surfaces and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease. Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or exhibiting 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.

Felines:

While the more familiar H3N8 strain is not known to affect cats, H3N2 has caused infection and respiratory illness in felines. The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine recommends that pet owners seek veterinary care for both dogs and cats exhibiting clinical signs.

Bird Flu:

Though the H3N2 virus is distantly related to the virus that causes the Avian flu, it is a very different strain than the one that has recently been found in the domestic turkey population in Minnesota. For more information on the Avian flu visit the Minnesota Board of Animal Health website at: https://www.bah.state.mn.us/avian-influenza

We will continue to follow the updated research and bring you the necessary information to help protect your pet from any threats.