We have recently had a few questions regarding the Canine Influenza Virus and would like to help clear up any confusion. There have been pockets of outbreaks of the virus in the US and Asia over the past several years, but we’ve been mostly spared here in Canada, until recently. In December 2017, there were 2 confirmed cases in the Windsor-Sussex area in dogs imported from Korea. Several other dogs that had been in contact with those affected showed signs of a mild respiratory disease, but test results are still pending.
The influenza virus is spread via the aerosol route (cough or sneeze), through direct contact with affected dogs (licking or nuzzling), through contaminated objects (dog dishes, toys, bedding, clothing) and by people who have been handling dogs with the Influenza virus. The virus does not survive for a long time in the environment, but is highly contagious because as a newer virus, dogs have no natural immunity against it.
Signs of the Canine Influenza Virus can include:
- discharge from the eyes and or nose (either clear or mucopurulent)
- Increased respiratory rate or effort
Dogs may go on to develop pneumonia, but in mild cases, symptoms may be minimal. Most animals recover without incident. There currently appears to be no risk of humans contracting the virus from their dogs, but this could change if the canine and human flu viruses mix together. Cats have a slight risk of contracting it from dogs.
Dogs of any age, breed or vaccine status are susceptible to the virus, and those who visit areas where there is known influenza activity carry the greatest risk of contracting the disease. For dogs traveling in the United States, you can check the level of influenza activity at your destination at https://www.dogflu.com/outbreak-map. Also at greater risk are dogs traveling from Asia (including rescues), and dogs who are in contact with dogs traveling from the US or Asia (at dog shows, trials, etc).
Fortunately there is a new vaccine against the Canine Influenza Virus. While not every dog needs the vaccine, here are situations in which it may be worth considering:
- Dogs traveling to areas in the US or Asia where there is flu activity
- Dogs that may have contact with dogs from Asia
- Dogs that may have contact with dogs traveling from the US (at dog shows, dogs from kennels, etc).
Consider the vaccination also in dogs with increased risk of serious complications if the Influenza virus were to be contracted (for example dogs with heart or lung disease, senior dogs, and flat-faced dogs such as bulldogs or pugs). Like the human Influenza vaccine, it is designed to reduce the risk of disease but does not guarantee protection.
We should have the vaccination in stock soon. If you are interested in the vaccine, or in learning more about the disease, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Also, check out this blog which has very up to date information: https://www.wormsandgermsblog.com .