Canine Influenza Update | May 2016
Canine Influenza Cases Confirmed Locally in Bloomington-Normal and Pontiac
Update 5/27: We are now requiring all dogs boarding in our hospitals to have had both boosters of H3N2 and H3N8 Canine Influenza with the final boosters given at least two weeks prior to their boarding appointments. More information is provided below.
Since the first outbreaks occurred in Chicago during March 2015, testing has confirmed that there is a new canine influenza strain, different from the previously identified virus, that is causing infection H3N2. Outbreaks have occurred in a number of areas throughout the U.S. and more than 2,000 dogs have been confirmed positive for the H3N2 virus, including many dogs in our area.
So far in May 2016, over 100 cases of H3N2 have been reported in Bloomington-Normal, where two dogs have died to date, and one case has been confirmed in Pontiac. Last November, several cases were confirmed in Naperville and St. Anne in Kankakee County, and others were suspected in Mazon and Streator.
As always, anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact our clinic. We’ve provided more information below regarding our updated vaccine requirements and recommendations.
Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) infection resembles canine infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). The illness may be mild or severe, and infected dogs develop a persistent cough and may develop a thick nasal discharge and fever (often 104-105oF). Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite. The fact that some dogs may not show any signs of illness, but still can shed the virus, results in silent carriers to infect other dogs.
Dogs are most contagious during the two- to four-day incubation period for the virus, when they are infected and shedding the virus in their nasal secretions but are not showing signs of illness. Almost all dogs exposed to CIV will become infected, and the majority (80%) of infected dogs develop flu-like illness. Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia.
Many of your pets have been vaccinated and protected against the previous H3N8 strain of canine influenza, which was first discovered in 2004 and until 2015 was the only strain of canine influenza found in the United States. It is not known whether the H3N8 vaccine provides any protection against this new H3N2 strain, but until recently, it was the only vaccine available. The vaccines may not completely prevent infection, but appear to reduce the severity and duration of the illness, as well as the length of time when an infected dog may shed the virus in its respiratory secretions and the amount of virus shed – making them less contagious to other dogs.
Vaccine manufacturers have now come out with a specific vaccine for the new H3N2 canine influenza strain. With this vaccine now being available, we are updating our boarding and grooming policy to require vaccination for both strains. It is anticipated that both strains will eventually be in the same vaccination but currently they are still separate. Each dog will need two boosters given 2-4 weeks apart. Immunity peaks about 2-3 weeks after the 2nd vaccine booster. So, it is best to plan scheduling in advance if you know your pet will be going to groom or board. If our doctors have examined your pet within the past 3 months, and you have no other concerns, the doctor exam will be waived at the time of vaccination. Even if your pet had previously been vaccinated for the original H3N8 vaccine, two boosters of the new H3N2 strain are needed for protection.
The CIV vaccination is a “lifestyle” vaccination, recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs – such as boarding, attending social events with dogs present, and visiting dog parks.
For more information:
- American Veterinary Medical Association’s Pet Owner Guide on Canine Influenza
- Pontiac Daily Leader: New strain of canine flu has made it to Pontiac
- Pantagraph: Dog flu sickens hundreds
If you have any questions or would like any clarification on the above information, please give us a call.