Canine Influenza Outbreak
As of this March 7, 2017, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine is reporting that there have been 23 confirmed cases of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in dogs in Minnesota within the last 45 days. This is a significant increase over the previous number of reported cases (a total of 49 between March of 2015 and the present), and places Minnesota second only to Florida in the number of cases in that period.
Detailed statistics on Canine Influenza cases are difficult to come by because the Board of Animal Health stopped requiring that cases be reported to them as of 2016. However, anecdotally, it is believed that the majority of cases have been in dogs traveling to shows. We know several of the cases have been in Wright County. The incidence map provided on the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine shows that the cases appear to be clustered near the Twin Cities metro area.
The Cornell report can be found at their web site.
Canine influenza is a highly contagious virus which can affect cats as well as dogs. Two strains of CIV have been identified in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2. The current outbreak is the H3N2 strain, the same one involved in the 2015 outbreak which caused significant disease, particularly in the Chicago area.
Canine influenza is spread through droplets or aerosols from coughing, barking and sneezing. It can also be spread indirectly through objects (e.g., kennels, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) or people that have been in contact with infected 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. In most cases, clinical signs appear 2-3 (up to 8) days after exposure, and dogs are most contagious during that asymptomatic incubation period. Virtually all dogs exposed to CIV become infected, with approximately 80% developing clinical signs of disease. The remaining 20% can have a subclinical infection, meaning they exhibit no signs but can still shed the virus.
The majority of infected dogs exhibit the mild form of canine influenza. The most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, lethargy and decreased appetite may also be observed. Many dogs develop a fever (104-105 deg. ). Much like influenza in humans, some dogs are more severely affected. Disease can progress to pneumonia, and, although most dogs will recover uneventfully, deaths have been reported.
Vaccines are available for both H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza. Currently, there are no CIV vaccines approved for use in cats. Vaccination can reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza and may reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness if a dog does become infected.
The canine influenza vaccine is considered a “non-core” vaccine, which means it is not recommended for every dog. In general, dogs that may benefit from canine influenza vaccination include those that travel extensively, such as for showing, or spend time in boarding facilities and/or large grooming facilities.
We at True Companions VetVan are committed to keeping your True Companion safe, so in response to this information we have ordered a case of H3N8/H3N2 vaccine for at-risk dogs. If you feel your dog is at risk of exposure, or if you have questions or concerns about CIV, please contact us to arrange for a visit.