Recently there has been a great deal of news coverage regarding the Canine Influenza Virus or CIV outbreak in Chicago, Illinois. In turn, we have been receiving many calls from concerned clients regarding this new strain of CIV. Therefore, we would like to address this subject matter with all of our clients.
Canine Influenza Virus was first identified amongst racing greyhounds in 2004 and has sporadically appeared since as outbreaks in shelters and boarding facilities. This original Canine Influenza Virus strain has been classified as H3N8, and there has been a vaccination for this particular strain since 2009. Clients who may use a boarding or grooming facility may have been asked to have their dog vaccinated against Canine Influenza Virus in recent years.
There is a second strain of Canine Influenza Virus classified as H3N2, which until this recent outbreak in the Midwest, appeared limited to Korea, China and Thailand. This is the strain that the news coverage is referring to. Unfortunately, at this time there has not yet been a vaccination developed for the H3N2 strain of Canine Influenza Virus. It is not yet known if the current vaccine will provide any protection from this strain of virus.
Neither strain of this virus is transmittable to humans, however, they have found that H3N2 has caused infection and respiratory illness in cats.
Canine Influenza Virus, both H3N8 and H3N2 strains are transmitted via aerosolized respiratory secretions and contaminated objects. The virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours. This is a new pathogen, therefore all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection due to the lack of immunity. Therefore, all dogs that are exposed become infected with the virus, but approximately 80% develop clinical signs of disease, 20% do not show signs but can still shed the virus and spread infection.
Both influenza strains can cause high fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy and loss of appetite. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it is a good idea for you to bring him or her to the Veterinarian. These symptoms could be associated with a variety of medical conditions and does not mean that your dog necessarily has CIV. However, these are the clinical symptoms of CIV. These symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose the virus. We are able to test for the H3N8 strain with nasal or pharyngeal swabs and/or serologic testing. Testing strategies for the H3N2 strain are currently being developed.
As with any virus, the treatment is in supportive care. The doctor can provide antimicrobials for secondary bacterial infections, medications to reduce fever and inflammation and administer fluids to help with hydration. When left untreated, there is a concern of fatality. However, the mortality rate is low, (less that 10%).
We know that all of our clients love and care about their pets and hearing and/or viewing news coverage regarding a new virus is very concerning. At this time, we are not overly alarmed but we would like to raise caution and provide education to our clients. If your dog frequently visits the dog park, groomer or boarding facility you may consider vaccinating against Canine Influenza Virus. If your dog receives a Bordetella Vaccine (Kennel Cough), it may be a good idea to vaccinate against CIV, as the risk groups are similar.
We will continue to provide information to our clients, should new medical information be released. The information provided in this letter was referenced from: The American Veterinary Medical Association or www.avma.org. and from the Cornell University Media Relations Office. As always, we are here for you. If you have any questions or concerns, or feel that you would like to vaccinate your dog against the H3N8 strain of CIV, please give us a call at 845-783-2333 and one of our Client Service Representatives will be happy to assist you.
The Doctors and Staff at Goosepond Animal Hospital