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Canine Influenza: Current Information & Recommendations

Canine Influenza: 
Current Information & Recommendations

Updated June 2018


What is the history and current status of Canine Influenza in the United States?

The first outbreak of canine influenza virus (CIV) was in 2004 from influenza virus H3N8 and occurred in racing Greyhounds in Florida. The H3N8 virus outbreak was thought to originate from the horse H3N8 virus. Since 2004 H3N8 has been detected in 40 U.S. states including all of the northeast. There have not been other serious outbreaks of H3N8 since the original episode in 2004.

Subsequently, Canine Influenza virus H3N2 was detected in March 2015 in a serious outbreak in Chicago.  Prior to this it had been restricted to South Korea, China, and Thailand. Since then it has been detected in a number of states. The latest major outbreak was in May 2017 in Florida and other areas throughout the southeast U.S.  
Most recently, cases were detected in New York City and New Jersey.  

In early 2016 CIV was also identified as the cause of a respiratory outbreak in a feline shelter in Indiana. There is no current evidence that CIV is transmissible to humans.


How is CIV transmitted?

Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing. CIV can 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.  Infection can occur within a few hours of exposure and dogs often show signs in 1-4 days. H3N8 can shed for up to 10 days, whereas H3N2 can be shed for up to 24 days. Dogs can shed these viruses before the onset of clinical signs as well as continue to shed after their clinical signs resolve. Even if a dog never shows any signs of illness, viral shedding still occurs.  


What Canine pets are most likely to be exposed to Canine Influenza?

Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places such as kennels, groomers, day care facilities and shelters are at increased risk of infection.


What are the symptoms and how severe is Canine Influenza in dogs?

80% of dogs that contract CIV show symptoms. 20% do not show any symptoms but will continue to shed the virus and infect other dogs. When CIV enters a canine respiratory tract the virus causes death of the cells lining the airways. This causes extreme inflammation and leaves the entire respiratory tract susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. The majority of dogs exhibit the mild form of CIV; the main sign is a persistent heavy cough that is resistant to treatment with cough suppressants or antibiotics. Some of these dogs develop fevers and nasal discharge. Some dogs are more severely affected and develop pneumonia and high fevers. Deaths from CIV are rare if there is proper medical care and supportive therapy.


How serious is the risk of exposure?

Risk of exposure is difficult to predict, however the tremendous movement of dogs within the U.S. and internationally make the potential for new outbreaks concerning.  Also, dogs that go to areas where many other dogs are or have been present are at a greater risk. Kennels, groomers, daycare facilities, training facilities, dog shows, and dog parks are all potential high-risk areas.


Is Canine Influenza Preventable?

There is a vaccine available that vaccinates against both H3N2 and H3N8 strains of CIV. It requires initially two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart. Immunity will be present 3 to 4 weeks after the second vaccination.


How effective is the vaccine?

Immunity from CIV vaccination will significantly reduce the severity of a CIV infection and signs and may prevent any illness in some dogs. In studies, only 1 in 3 vaccinated dogs exhibited any cough.


What is the current recommendation of the Rhinebeck Animal Hospital?

The extreme contagious nature of the virus and the tremendous mobility of dogs traveling in and out of the U.S. keeps us watchful and concerned. We do not want to advise vaccination for a disease we may not see, but on the other hand do not want to leave our patients exposed to a potential risk.


We recommend that all dogs receive the Canine Influenza Vaccine.  Vaccinate for both strains of CIV with two doses of the bivalent vaccine now.  Booster annually to maintain immunity against both strains of CIV.  Effective immediately, we require the influenza vaccine for boarding.  Due to the increased risk of CIV and other respiratory diseases, dogs that are actively coughing due to an unknown cause will not be permitted to board. 


Please emailrequest online, or call if you would like an appointment for a canine influenza vaccination. Pets that have had current wellness exams can receive the vaccinations as an outpatient procedure at a time convenient for you.

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If you have any questions regarding Canine Influenza Virus, please do not hesitate to contact our office either by e-mail ([email protected]) or by phone at (845)876-6008.

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