There has been a canine influenza outbreak in Chicago that has now made its way into the suburbs, including Lincolnshire. Canine influenza is caused by a highly contagious virus that was identified in Florida in 2005 when it caused several severe respiratory outbreaks in racing greyhounds. Influenza A virus in dogs (canine influenza virus, CIV, canine flu) is a respiratory tract disease that mimics bordetellosis (Bordetella bronchiseptica infection or kennel cough). However, unlike many cases of kennel cough, the dog needs veterinary care. Dogs have no natural immunity to influenza A and every dog exposed will become infected with 80% of those infected eventually showing symptoms. After infection, there is a 2-5 day incubation period before a dog starts to show symptoms. A soft, moist, sometimes productive cough is seen. The cough often persists for several weeks, even with appropriate therapy. Dogs may lose their appetite, develop a fever, and produce a pus-like nasal discharge. Up to 10% of dogs may develop a more severe form of illness, with high fever, lethargy (tiredness), rapid breathing, and pneumonia. Death, although rare, is possible.
We do have tests available to diagnose and recommend any patient showing symptoms to be seen by your veterinarian. Test results take up to 3 days but patients will be started on antibiotics while waiting for results. Vaccines do exist to prevent infection but require two boosters 3 weeks apart and immunity does not develop until 2 weeks after the second booster. We do carry the canine influenza vaccine in hospital. With the current severity of the outbreak, we recommend vaccinating dogs who board, attend doggy day care, visit dog parks, go to obedience trials, etc.
At this point, limiting exposure is the best way to prevent infection. We recommend avoiding dog parks, groomers, doggy day cares, dog shows and events. Even associating with neighbor pets should be with caution unless you know for sure they have not been exposed to other dogs. Due to possible transmission even after clinical signs have subsided, it is recommended that you not associate with any dogs until symptoms have been gone for 2 weeks. There is no known transmission of canine influenza to humans.
Please contact us with any other questions that you might have.
Doctors and Staff of Lincolnshire Animal Hospital