Canine Influenza has raised it’s evil head in the Southern States, especially Florida, so snow birds traveling south this winter, please read.
Canine influenza or dog flu is a highly contagious virus that affects dogs as well as cats. Like the human flu virus, this virus can quickly change and give rise to new strains that can infect different species. Currently, two strains have been identified in the USA, H3N8 and H3N2. In 2004, H3N8 was detected in racing greyhounds in Florida, with the thought the virus jumped from horses to dogs. However, this influenza has now been identified in dogs in most U.S. states. In March of 2015, H3N2 was identified as the cause of the outbreak of respiratory illness in Chicago area dogs. Prior to this, this strain was only found in South Korea, China, and Thailand. Mode of transfer, most likely from live bird markets. In May of 2017, H3N2 was diagnosed in dogs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana and Illinois. ( So far no identified dog flu in Macomb County, Michigan, but dogs travel!).
This virus is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing. Dogs in close contact with infected dogs such as kennels, groomers,day care facilities and shelters are at higher risk. What is troubling about this disease is that dog who are infected may show no symptoms for several days, but have spread the virus to others in the mean time. The virus can remain alive on surfaces fro up to 48 hours or on clothing for 24 hours and hands for 12 hours. (Beware of strangers petting your dog).
Symptoms mimic Kennel cough but the clinical sign of a cough persist for 10 to 21 days despite treatment. Affected dogs may have a soft moist cough, nasal or eye discharge, sneezing, lethargy and off food. Many dogs will spike a fever up to 105 degrees. Some dogs more severely affected may exhibit signs of pneumonia. Treatment is supportive care with possible IV fluids, anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics. Morbidity is low, less then 10 %. Cats who become affected with this virus show the same symptoms and as of this date no morbidity.
How do you protect your dog? There is now a 2 strain Influenza vaccine available for dogs. A series of two vaccines are required at a three week interval to protect your dog. It is our recommendation that if you believe your dog will be traveling to any of the states listed, your dog should be vaccinated prior to your departure. Call our Macomb office for more details: 586 598 1900.