Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza
What is new with Canine Influenza?
There is currently an outbreak of Canine Influenza in Chicago, Illinois which has spread to most of the continental United States. This strain of Canine Influenza, H3N2, is not the same strain that has been previously identified in the United States and is thought to have originated from Asia. Cats may also be able to contract the H3N2 strain of Canine Influenza but it is not contagious to the human population. Over 1000 cases of this new strain have been positively identified and many more cases have likely gone unconfirmed. The current vaccination for Canine Influenza strain H3N8 may not offer protection against the new strain but will offer protection against H3N8. While mortality rates are relatively low with both strains, co-infection with other upper respiratory bacteria or viruses significantly increases the severity of illness. Vaccinations for Bordetella Bronchisepticum and Parainfluenza virus are available and recommended in addition to DHPP and Canine Influenza vaccines for any dogs at increased risk for exposure. Dogs which travel (especially those participating in events such as show, agility, obedience, and other competitions), get groomed, go to the dog park, or frequent areas where there are many other dogs are at increased risk for many infections including Canine Influenza.  

What is Canine Influenza?
Canine Influenza is a highly contagious strain of H3N8 virus that causes classic flu symptoms in dogs. Symptoms include coughing, runny nose and eyes, and fever. The newer strain H3N2 causes a very high fever of 104 to 105F within the first 24 to 48 hours.  Because most of our dog population has no immunity to this new virus, almost every exposed dog will become infected.
Approximately 80% of infected dogs will display mild to moderate symptoms lasting for several weeks, while the remaining 20% can experience serious complications that require extensive hospitalization.
In some cases, a serious pneumonia has resulted in a mortality rate as high as 8%. This is considerably higher than the 1% mortality rate reported with human influenza. Dogs infected with canine flu can shed the virus for up to 2-4 days before showing any signs of illness and shed for up to 24 days after infection. The virus spreads between dogs by direct contact (licking or nuzzling), indirect contact (coughing or sneezing) or through contaminated surfaces (human hands, clothes and floor surfaces).

Where did Canine Influenza originate?
Canine Influenza H3N8 is an emerging virus that has been spreading slowly across the United States. In 2003, the Equine Influenza Virus mutated, as influenza viruses often do, and crossed species to infect racing greyhounds in Florida. Since then, the virus has now been identified in at least 30 states including North Carolina and Virginia. The newer strain H3N2 originated in Korea and emerged in Chicago in March 2015.  Since then, it has rapidly spread to the majority of the continental United States and has been positively identified in Asheville, Greensboro, Winston Salem, and Raleigh North Carolina as of August 2015.

What dogs are at risk?
Dogs at risk include those that:
• Attend dog events or travel to high risk areas;
• Go to large daycare facilities, dog parks or group training classes;
• Board at large kennels or visit large grooming facilities; and
• Have owners who volunteer, work or are adding a new dog friend from an animal shelter, rescue organization or pet store that purchases puppies from high risk areas.

What is the treatment for Canine Influenza?
If your dog is exposed to any of the risk factors listed above, a vaccination is currently available to reduce the severity of H3N8 Canine Influenza virus significantly. Like other vaccines that your dog has received, it initially takes two doses of the vaccine given two to four weeks apart to provide protection against canine flu. After the vaccine series, your dog should receive annual boosters. If you have questions regarding Canine Influenza, the influenza vaccination, or if your dog has possible symptoms of the infection, be sure to contact your veterinarian. Your dog’s veterinarian is your best resource for information.

Share by: