Canine Influenza Outbreaks
posted: Jan 05, 2012.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed good times with family and friends. Special thanks to all of you who filled our bellies over the holidays with lots of goodies! We all need to go on a diet now:)
I'm sure a lot of you have heard news reports about the outbreaks of canine influenza and I wanted to give you the latest info and my recommendations in the face of this recent problem. So...a little background info on the disease...
Canine influenza, or H3N8, is a viral disease similar to the human flu virus but unlike human flu, canine influenza is present year round, not just seasonally.
Canine influenza is spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions and contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The virus can remain viable (alive and able to infect) on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
The incubation period is usually two to four days from exposure to onset of clinical signs. The highest amounts of viral shedding occur during this time; therefore, dogs are most contagious during this 2-4 day incubation period when they are not exhibiting signs of illness. Virus shedding decreases dramatically during the first 4 days of illness but may continue up to 7 days in most dogs and up to 10 days in some dogs.
Because this is a newly emerging pathogen, all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no naturally acquired or vaccine-induced immunity when first exposed to the virus. If the virus enters a kennel or other closed group, a high percentage of the dogs may become infected, and most of these dogs will be symptomatic. Approximately 20-25% of infected dogs are expected to remain asymptomatic, but can still shed the virus and spread the virus. Although most dogs have a milder form of canine influenza and recover without complications, some may develop severe pneumonia, and an estimated 1-5% of infected dogs can die due to severe pulmonary damage.
A few months ago there was an outbreak in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />San Antonio, and more recently outbreaks have occurred in Ft. Worth and Beaumont, and it is my belief that an outbreak in the greater Houston area is likely to happen. Therefore, my recommendation is that if your pets board, go to the groomer, dog parks or even places like Petsmart for a shopping trip, I would highly suggest getting them vaccinated for influenza. The vaccine involves an initial shot followed by a booster in 4 weeks, then is boostered annually. The vaccine has been available for over a year and has been shown to have similar safety margins as the other core vaccines we recommend. One thing to note, the vaccine doesn't necessarily prevent the disease, but has been shown to decrease the severity and duration of illness. I will be vaccinating my own dogs for this disease as it is so highly contagious and often is spread before carrier dogs even show symptoms.
We have the vaccine in stock currently, and will begin vaccinating for canine influenza presently. Effective Jan 15, all canine boarders will be required to have been vaccinated against canine influenza to protect the patients in my hospital and boarding facilities.
If you have any questions, please give us a call anytime at (936)588-1515.
Hope everyone has a wonderful 2012! Be safe and enjoy the weekend festivities.