There has been a recent outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus in the Chicago area. The majority of reported cases have been in Chicago, however, one case was reported in a dog in Dane County. This dog had recently traveled to the Chicago area.
What is Canine Influenza Virus (CIV or H3N8)?
Canine influenza is a respiratory disease that can cause coughing, runny nose, watery eyes, loss of energy, and/or loss of appetite. The signs of infection are similar to those of other respiratory diseases in dogs, but the coughing caused by canine influenza can last for several weeks.
With proper care, most dogs generally recover. However, canine influenza can lead to more severe or even life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia, and has been fatal in up to 8% of cases.
Because canine influenza is caused by a relatively new virus, dogs have no natural immunity to it. Also, since it is highly contagious, visiting places where dogs congregate, such as kennels, doggie daycares, dog parks, or groomers, puts dogs at higher risk for catching this new virus.
In most dogs, signs of infection are similar to "kennel cough" from other causes, and may include:
- Mild low-grade fever
- Soft, moist (productive) or dry cough lasting 10-30 days
- Unresponsive to antibiotics or antitussives
- +/- thick, purulent/mildly bloody nasal discharge
Making things more difficult is the fact that dogs can spread the virus before the coughing and other signs of sickness appear. Therefore, the best way to protect your dog from canine influenza is through vaccination.
Like the human flu vaccine, the canine influenza vaccine doesn't completely prevent infection, but it can dramatically reduce the severity of the disease. The vaccine also significantly reduces the amount of virus that dogs shed, minimizing spread to other dogs — so it's the ideal way to protect our local canine community as well.
We recommend vaccinating high-risk dogs (those boarding at a kennel or traveling to the Chicago area) against canine influenza.
NOTE: While the CIV vaccine is considered very effective, it takes up to six weeks for immunity to be protective (initial vaccine, followed by a booster 3-4 weeks later). While we are monitoring the situation carefully, we see many, many more cases of Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough) in our area at this time.
Please call us at (608) 836-8561 to make sure your dog is up to date on its vaccines and to discuss if the CIV vaccine is appropriate for your pet. (We use the Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine.)
For more information, please visit DogInfluenza.com.