By Karen A. Soukiasian
Don’t take Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) lightly. Even dogs inoculated for bordetella, are candidates for infection. Puppies, dogs with compromised immune systems and senior dogs are at greater risk.
· Since Labor Day Weekend 2009, this highly contagious respiratory viral infection of dogs has roared like a wild fire, up the East Coast from Miami to New England.
· It is caused by the subtype H3N8 of the influenza A virus.
· It is the source of acute respiratory infection in dogs. It can cause respiratory disease alone, or in combination with other canine respiratory pathogens.
· It is not seasonal…dogs can contract it year round.
· All dogs regardless of age or breed are at risk.
· Affects dogs only.
· 100% of dogs are susceptible…80% will show signs, 20% will not become ill, but can still be a carrier.
· Dogs not exhibiting symptoms can spread the disease.
· Symptoms are: persistent coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and transient low-grade fever, lack of appetite, lack of energy. The cough can last up to 1 month.
· Coughing is the dog’s way of ridding the virus from their body. Do not give cough suppressant!
· Take precautions to prevent secondary infections such as a yellow-green nasal discharge and pneumonia.
· It is spread through air (coughing or sneezing), direct contact, (licking, kissing, nuzzling, shared bowls) and contaminated surfaces (hands, clothing, furniture, bedding, dog bedding, crates, kennels, toys, bowls, dog collars, dog leashes and other surfaces)
· It can be treated with antibiotics, to avoid or lessen risks of secondary infection.
· If inoculated before infected, severity may be reduced with the H3N8 vaccine – given in 2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart, followed by an annual re-vaccination.
· Dogs currently vaccinated for Bordetella (kennel cough) are likely candidates for the CIV H3N8.
· Unless inoculated, avoid large gatherings of dogs.
· Washing hands, clothing, and other items in soap and water can easily inactivate the virus. (virus can survive for up to 48 hours otherwise)
· Concrete and metal surfaces should be cleaned with a 1-part bleach to 9-parts water.
· For the first 7-10 days, infected dogs shed the virus through respiratory secretions. Avoid contact with other dogs during this period if possible!
· The virus usually runs its course usually in 2 weeks. After that, the dog is no longer contagious.
Bottom line: If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms, get to the vet immediately. There is a greater risk of death if there are secondary infections such as pneumonia.
If your dog does not yet show symptoms, talk to your vet about the CIV H3N8 vaccine.
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