As many of you have already heard, there is Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) that has now reached the Midwest. Over 1000 dogs in the Chicago area have been diagnosed with Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) which is the new term for “kennel cough”. CIRD is a broad term that covers all causes of canine respiratory disease including bordetellla, parainfluenza and now CIV can be included on the list. Unfortunately, there are different strains of the influenza virus complicating matters even more. This is from Cornell University: “The outbreak in the Midwest had been attributed to the H3N8 strain of the virus, which was identified in the U.S. dog population in 2004 and has been circulating since. The H3N2 virus (found in Chicago) had not been previously detected in North America. The outbreak in Chicago suggests a recent introduction of the H3N2 virus from Asia.” So there is a vaccine for the H3N8 strain of CIV but that strain is not the one that is causing the problems in Chicago.
This information is from the Veterinary Information Network (VIN): “After infection, there is a 2-5 day incubation period. Nasal virus shedding peaks during this time. Clinical signs generally do not become apparent until day 5-7 and in most cases shedding wanes by 7-10 days after infection. Clinical signs are generally very mild to inapparent during peak viral shedding. A soft, moist, sometimes-productive cough is seen. The cough often persists for several weeks, even with appropriate therapy. Dogs may lose their appetite, develop a fever, and produce a pus-like nasal discharge. Up to 10% of dogs may develop a more severe form of illness, with high fever, lethargy (tiredness), rapid breathing, and secondary bronchopneumonia. The fatality rate related to pneumonia/bronchopneumonia is reported to be around 5-8% in selected high-risk populations. After day five, approximately 10-20% of affected dogs are have no symptoms but are still shedding infectious virus.” To see that whole accurate and informative article, use this link: veterinarypartner.com . Unfortunately, this new H3N2 strain has also caused infection and respiratory illness in cats. There is no feline vaccine for this disease.
The good news is there has not been a case of either form of CIV yet reported in Minnesota. As there is no vaccine for the H3N2 strain, it is difficult for us to make vaccine recommendations. Many vets are recommending vaccinating for all the things that we can prevent in the CIRD family including bordetella, parainfluenza, and the H3N8 strain of the CIV. There is some speculation that there could be some cross protection against the H3N2 strain of virus using the H3N8 vaccine but there is no proof of that and it may be wishful thinking. Vaccination is something to consider if your dog comes in contact with many other dogs and is considered at higher risk. Right now that includes those dogs that board, show, do agility, go to dog parks or day care among other things. Avoiding areas where dogs congregate will minimize the risk of being exposed to any of these diseases.
As information and recommendations seem to be changing daily, we will stay on top of this information and keep you posted with accurate information. News outlets love to sensationalize these stories, especially anything that could threaten our pets, so you will probably see those sooner or later. But, again, there has not been a case of either form of CIV reported in Minnesota yet. Until that happens, there is no need to worry about what might happen. Keeping informed and prepared for potential problems is the best course for now.