Friday, May 1, 2015

Canine Influenza Outbreak

On Wednesday morning, Mandy could barely get up and refused to eat. I knew something had to be wrong so I called my vet and made an appointment right away. Thankfully it was nothing too serious, she had a bladder infection and the vet prescribed her with an antibiotic. During the visit though, my vet alerted me to a canine influenza outbreak and gave me a packet explaining the virus. 

This is the packet I received from my vet.

After I got home, I did some research on the outbreak and found out it's spreading quickly in the Midwest. In Chicago, more than 1,000 dogs have been affected by the Canine Influenza Virus. 

According to an article written by the Chicago Tribune, animal shelters in Chicago Heights and Tinley Park have temporarily closed due to an outbreak of canine influenza. At the South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights, 60 dogs have been diagnosed with the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease and at the PAWS shelter in Tinley Park 35 dogs have been confirmed with it as well. 

Animal hospitals are working with the shelters to treat the ill dogs. The dogs are being treated with antibiotics orally or through injections. The influenza virus is highly contagious but all the dogs are expected to make a full recovery.

According to an article written by NBC5 Chicago, veterinarians are unsure how the strain of the virus, H3N2, came to Chicago because it has not been detected in the United States until now. The strain has only been detected in dog populations in China and South Korea.

To prevent the virus from spreading any further, dog parks and dog kennels in surrounding areas have closed. Dog owners have been advised not to take their dog to any place where other dogs congregate.

While no cases have been detected on the East Coast, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and treatments. Below are some frequently asked questions about the canine influenza from the packet I received from my vet. The information is distributed by the New York State Veterinary Medical Society.

How is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease spread?

Dogs are mostly likely to spread the virus through nasal secretions two to four days after they have been infected. During this period, the infected dog will not show outward signs of the illness. The virus is extremely contagious and most dogs that come in contact with the virus will develop influenza. 

What are the symptoms of the disease?

Infected dogs will develop a flu-like or respiratory illness. Symptoms include:
  • High fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
What should you do if your dog is experiencing these symptoms?

Seek veterinary treatment immediately. The mortality rate is low but infected dogs need to be tested and treated as soon as possible. If the virus is left untreated, the disease can go into pneumonia.

How is the disease treated?

With a series of antibiotics and isolated care.

What preventative measures can you take to limit your dog's exposure to the virus?

If cases in your area have been reported, avoid taking your dog to dog parks, grooming facilities or boarding kennels. There is a vaccine for the more common canine influenza strain, H3N8, but it's unknown whether the vaccine will help protect against the H3N2 strain.

For more information about canine influenza, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website or The Center for Disease Control website.

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