As has been reported extensively in the media lately, a new outbreak of Canine Influenza is occurring in the Chicago area. The outbreak was first noticed in late March. There have since been over 1000 cases reported in addition to 6 deaths in dogs related to the virus.
The signs of illness include coughing, runny nose, and fever. Dogs that contract the virus are being treated by veterinarians with supportive medications, and in some cases hospitalization is needed. The virus is spread through close ‘nose-to-nose’ contact. Dogs are at a higher risk of contracting the illness if they visit areas like parks, boarding, or grooming facilities where infected dogs may be encountered. There is no risk of transmission to humans, however people can act as carriers, moving the virus from one dog to another on their hands or clothes.
So far, cases are concentrated in Chicago and other parts of Illinois, but there are reported cases in neighbouring states including Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio. While no cases have been reported by vets in Toronto, if your dog is showing any of the signs of influenza, a visit with your veterinarian is recommended.
The strain of influenza causing the outbreak is H3N2, which has been found in southern China and South Korea since 2006. While there are currently available vaccines for Canine Influenza, the vaccines are specific for a more commonly found flu strain in North America, H3N8. It is not known whether the current vaccine will have any benefit in preventing illness from H3N2 Canine Influenza.
If you have any questions about Canine Influenza, feel free to contact us any time! You can also visit the following websites for more information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/news/canine-influenza-update.htm
Cornell University: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/04/new-virus-strain-causes-midwest-dog-flu-outbreak
University of Wisconsin: http://www.news.wisc.edu/23656