You may have heard it on the news, there have been confirmed cases of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in Georgia and Tennessee. CIV is an extremely contagious disease for dogs.
There are two strains of the canine flu virus, H3N2 and H3N8. The current outbreak is of H3N2.
Luckily, there is a low mortality rate with animals who contract this disease (few dogs die). However, it is HIGHLY contagious to other dogs and can live in the environment for a few days after exposure. Therefore, we strongly recommend vaccination of at-risk dogs, the disease can be brought home on your clothes/shoes. It is not contagious to people (non-zoonotic), but cats can become infected with it.
CIV has an incubation period of 2 to 5 days (this means it takes approximately between 2-5 days for a dog to show signs). The general clinical signs of CIV are coughing, sneezing, not eating, fever, and acting depressed and tired. Runny eyes and a runny nose may or may not be present. More severe clinical signs of canine influenza virus are a high fever, (104.0 degrees Fahrenheit) or above, pneumonia, hemorrhagic (coughing up blood) pneumonia, trouble breathing and potential secondary bacterial pneumonia. Transmission of CIV can occur from virus aerosolized (spread into the air) by barking, coughing, sneezing, and surfaces contaminated with the virus. The virus can remain present on surfaces for several days. Coughing for several weeks after infection may be observed, but there is no risk of transmission at this time. Generally dogs are free of the virus by the 7th to 10th day after the onset of clinical signs, but with this particular strain, H3N2, the virus may shed up to 3 weeks or more after the resolution of clinical signs.
Cats can also be infected with H3N2 – they will have runny noses, congestion, malaise, lip smacking, and excessive salivation.
Transmission: Pets can get the disease through sharing bowls, being in close proximity to infected animals and breathing in, licking an infected area and we can bring it in on our clothes.
Diagnosis: of canine influenza virus is performed by identification of the virus in acutely infected animals or by the presence of CIV antibodies in the late stages of clinical disease. A swab is taken and sent to the lab.
Treatment: treatment is very similar to the way we treat ourselves with the flu, supportive care. This includes antibiotics to prevent/cure the secondary bacterial infection, fluid therapy, cough suppressant tabs, NSAIDS to reduce fever and help with pain, adequate nutrition, fever control (alcohol on the pads, put water on them and run a fan, etc), oxygen if in respiratory distress, anti-nausea medication, etc.
Prevention: Prevention and biosecurity are significant components to managing CIV. Vaccination against canine influenza virus is available and provided by many veterinary hospitals and clinics. Infection control measures, such as, cleaning and disinfecting cages, bowls, and other fomites (hard and soft surfaces that can allow the virus to live on it) is very important. Proper hygiene and washing clothes with detergent at proper washing temperatures also reduces and/or prevents the spread of the virus. Bag any towels separately and mark “Possible CIV” so that they can be disinfected. Bag any newspaper that may have been contaminated with bodily fluids separately and take to the trash immediately.
Canine Influenza Virus is extremely contagious, but if you take the proper steps in caring for your pet you can help your pet avoid getting sick. Vaccination is the first line of defense along proper cleaning. Avoid taking your dog to highly populated events.
National Spay Alliance does have the Influenza vaccine. Please call the office for pricing, age requirements, and frequency of vaccinating.