I am unsure if you are all aware of the recent outbreak of Canine Influenza last summer and fall in our pet dogs in North Carolina. The good news is as of August 24th, 2015 there are NO known active outbreaks in NC.
There had been approximately 225 dogs with signs consistent with canine influenza but not confirmed with laboratory testing. As of August 3rd there have been 10 confirmed cases of influenza in NC. Luckily there have not been any known reported deaths associated with complications of influenza in North Carolina (there have been a small number (0.4% mortality rate) in other parts of the country of reported deaths) . Even though the initial wave of cases has been contained, Canine influenza is here to stay in North Carolina.
So what is influenza like in my pet dog you may be asking? Signs include fever, coughing, sneezing, and malaise. These signs can last up to 2-3 weeks. Your pet can infect other dogs for days before showing clinical signs and then for over three additional weeks. There are some dogs, up to 25%. that show no clinical signs but can still be spreading the virus. Just like in humans, the very young, the old, and those with other medical conditions especially those with underlying respiratory conditions are prone to secondary complications such as pneumonia. The majority of dogs recovery without incident but those who develop secondary pneumonia need veterinary care.
So what can I do to prevent my own dog from getting influenza? Unfortunately for the present strain of influenza, H3N2, there is not a vaccine available. There is one for H3N8 influenza which is available and may provide some cross protection. Just like in human influenza, the virus likes to change but just like the human influenza vaccine does not prevent you from getting the flu, it can help decrease the severity and length of clinical signs. Protecting your dog against other upper respiratory diseases such as bordetella bronchiseptica, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and distemper is important especially for your pet who is groomed regularly, boards, or goes to doggie daycare.
And as always, we at Oxford Veterinary Hospital are here to answer any of your questions. If your dog has a cough or is not feeling well please call us (919)693-6911.
For those of you who wish to learn more about Canine Influenza an informational handout is available which we will be glad to email to you. Just send us your email at email@example.com.
Other online resources include:
http://www.ncagr.gov/vet/aws/canineflu/updates.htm (updates from North Carolina)