Canine Influenza (Dog Flu) Latest News June 2017
You may have heard about the recent outbreaks of Dog Flu. Confirmed cases of Dog Influenza (H3N2) have occurred in the Charlotte Area (Davidson, NC). There have been two deaths by influenza virus confirmed (one in Raleigh and one in Morehead City).
How is Canine Influenza Spread?
The H3N2 virus has been around since 2015 (Chicago outbreak). The H3N8 virus since 2004 (Florida). Sporadic outbreaks have been reported in areas but most recently an outbreak of H3N2 occurred at a dog show in Perry, Georgia. The dogs at the show often travel from neighboring states and may not show symptoms of the disease yet can bring it with them when they return home. Most dogs in the USA have never been exposed to the virus and therefore when they do get exposed, the virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly. Canine Influenza is spread via the air (nasal secretions - coughing and sneezing), by direct contact, or by contaminated objects such as kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, clothes, 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.
Because this is still an emerging disease and dogs in America have not been exposed to it before, almost all dogs, regardless of breed or age, lack immunity to it and are susceptible to infection if exposed to the active virus. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, and nearly 80% show clinical signs of disease. 20% may carry the disease yet show no clinical signs.
What are the signs of Influenza in dogs?
Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. The signs of canine flu are cough, runny nose and fever and are similar to other respiratory problems. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite and low-grade fever. Most dogs recover within two to three weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia. Very young dogs, dogs with other health problems, and older dogs are most severely affected and can develop lung damage, secondary pneumonia, and may even die.
How do I protect my Dog from the Influenza Virus?
There is a vaccine for the Influenza virus. The Influenza virus at East Lincoln Animal Hospital is the bivalent vaccine meaning it protects against both stains of canine Flu identified so far (H3N2 and H3N8). The vaccine does not protect your dog 100% but it will reduce the severity of the disease and the duration of illness. If your dog has never had this vaccine they need the initial vaccine and a booster 3 weeks later. If your dog boards, goes to dog show or similar competitions, socializes with dogs who go to shows and competitions, goes to the groomer, and/or goes to dog parks or training classes you should consider the vaccine as these activities increase the risk of being exposed to dog influenza.
How is Canine Influenza Diagnosed?
Canine influenza cannot be diagnosed solely by clinical signs (coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge) because these clinical signs also present with other canine respiratory illnesses (such as kennel cough). Tests (PCR is most reliable) are available to diagnose and identify stain of canine influenza virus. To prevent transmission of the virus, dogs infected with canine H3N2 influenza as well as other dogs in the household should be isolated for 4 weeks.
How is Canine Influenza Treated?
Treatment is supportive. Maintaining good hydration, nutrition, and treating any secondary bacterial infection (pneumonia) may be needed. Most dogs recover from canine influenza within 2-3 weeks. Some severely affected animals may require intravenous fluids and injectable antibiotics.
What do I do if I think my dog has Canine Influenza?
Call us! Dogs with clinical signs consistent with respiratory disease are not allowed in the waiting room. We ask that clients wait in the car with their dog until clinic staff is ready to see the dog without risking exposure to other dogs.
Can Cats get Canine Influenza?
Cats with Influenza display signs of upper respiratory disease, including nasal discharge, congestion, malaise, lip smacking and excessive salivation. A group of cats in a shelter in the Midwest were found to have the H3N2 virus. There is no vaccine currently approved or recommended for cats. See article here about the flu in cats.
Can People get Canine Influenza?
To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people.
1. Canine Influenza AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) article
2. Canine Influenza FAQ (AVMA)
3. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) facts