As you may be aware from local and national media, there has been an outbreak of Canine Influenza that currently is mainly in the Chicago Area. There has been one case confirmed in Dane County, but it appears that dog traveled to the Chicago area prior to contracting the virus. We wanted to let our dog parents know that we are monitoring the situation and wanted to give you some current information about the outbreak.
The canine influenza virus H3N8 first appeared at a dog track in Florida in 2004. There have been sporadic outbreaks across the country since then. The outbreaks have generally been limited to a small geographical area and have only lasted several weeks.
It was assumed that the outbreak in Chicago was caused by the same virus. It has just been determined through testing, however, the virus from this outbreak is a new influenza virus, H3N2, that has never been found in North America before.
The virus is not contagious to humans but there is some concern for cats as this strain of flu has caused infection and respiratory illness in felines in other countries where this virus has occurred.
There is a vaccine available for the old H3N8 virus but not the new H3N2 flu virus. There is disagreement among veterinary specialists as to the likelihood that the old vaccine might help protect against the new virus.
At this time, it seems that there is more evidence that the old vaccine will not help protect dogs from getting sick from the new virus. Just as the human flu vaccine has to be modified each year to protect against the new viruses, it is likely that the same is true for a new dog flu virus.
Because of the sporadic nature of canine flu and that it is not likely the old vaccine will protect dogs from the new virus, we are currently NOT recommending the vaccine for our patients.
If you want to be cautious and protect your dog from the possibility of contracting dog flu, the best advice is to keep your dog away from other dogs. You should also wash your hands after touching other dogs as the virus is easily killed with soap and hand sanitizers.
Please be aware that the understanding and situation of this flu outbreak could change and that we will keep you informed of new developments.
The signs Canine Influenza are:
Coughing, with nasal discharge*
*It is important to note, that coughing without any of the other symptoms is most likely NOT due to Canine Influenza.
If your dog develops a cough, please call the clinic so we can gather additional information and give specific recommendations. We are here to discuss any other questions that you may have regarding this outbreak or your dog's health. Please feel free to call us anytime.