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Canine Influenza Virus (Dog Flu)

Canine Influenza outbreak Spring 2015

Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs that is caused by the influenza A subtype H3N8 virus.  Dogs that frequent communal facilities are at a greater risk of exposure to Canine Influenza.  Places such as: 

  • Kennels
  • Shelters
  • Pet stores
  • Dog shows
  • Grooming facilities
  • Doggie Day Care
  • Dog Parks

Transmission:

Transmission of Canine influenza is by oronasal contact with infected dogs (lesser extent contact with fomites:  like shoes or cloths) and by inhalation of the virus in aerosols (sneezes and coughs).  The typical incubation period is 2-4 days and peak viral shedding occurs prior clinical signs.  Viral shedding (infectious stage) ceases about 10 days later.

Canine Influenza virus is not a hardy virus and can be destroyed easily.  The use of routine disinfectants like bleach can take care of the virus.  Without proper cleaning, the virus may live up to 48 hours in the environment.

Clinical signs:

About 80 percent of dogs exposed are going to develop issues with coughing and sneezing (with the majority being mild).  Secondary bacterial infections can be a problem with dogs who develop Canine influenza.

Treatment:

There is no specific treatment of this virus.  Supportive care (good nutrition, fresh water and appropriate shelter) and antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment.  Antitussive (cough medicines) are not very effective and should not be used in a dog with a productive cough.

Prevention: 

Influenza is best prevented with vaccination.  The vaccine may not prevent infection, but should reduce severity and duration of clinical illness.  Vaccine also helps reduce the shedding of virus.  Vaccination should be considered in dogs with “lifestyles” consistent with exposure to the disease. After initial vaccination, a booster vaccine should be given 3 weeks later.   

NOTE:  Canine Influenza does not infect humans*

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Animal Medical Center of Itasca

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