Canine influenza has been confirmed in the Chicago area again this year. At this time we have not seen any cases in our office. This influenza outbreak started in Chicago and is the H3N2 strain. The flu vaccine that is available now is for this strain. Since this is a new virus to our dog population, most dogs that come in contact with the virus will become ill. The virus also affects cats and ferrets. Clinical signs are similar to those of “Kennel Cough.” Coughing appears to be the first symptom followed by fever and runny nose. In more severe cases the fever can reach 107 degrees. The mortality has been low at 1-5% and usually dogs die from a secondary pneumonia and/or dehydration. Because the disease is highly contagious, infected animals should be isolated. Incubation time is 2-5 days and lasts 14-21 days. The virus can live outside the body for 24-48 hours on contaminated areas. It is easily inactivated with most disinfectants. The risk of exposure is low for most dogs under average circumstances. Owners who frequently travel with their pets especially in areas where dogs gather such as shows, parks, boarding and grooming facilities are advised to vaccinate their pets and watch carefully for clinical signs.
We ask that you call us before coming if you suspect your dog (or cat) may have Canine Influenza to alert us. We will have you leave your pet in the car until we can bring him or her into the office without exposing other dogs or cats.
We do have vaccine in stock and as long as your dog is not ill no exam will be required to vaccinate your dog. There is no vaccine for cats and ferrets.
At this time we are making the following recommendations.
Ø Vaccinate at risk dogs.
Ø Limit dog-to-dog contact.
Ø Avoid going to or taking your dog to areas that dogs congregate.
Ø If you come in contact with a dog or cat that is ill, wash your hands and change clothes before seeing other pets. Basic soap and water is effective at inactivating the virus.
We will continue to watch the situation and if any new information arrives from the State Board of Animal Health or the universities we will pass the information on to you. Watch our Facebook page and your email for any updates. Please call us with your questions or concerns.