Canine Influenza Virus

posted: by: Erin Weinzapfel, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Canine Influenza in North Carolina

First and foremost, we would like to state that there is no need to panic regarding the recent outbreak of Influenza in the Southeastern States. Only two cases have been confirmed in North Carolina, one in Raleigh, the other in Moorehead City. The greater Wilmington area has seen few suspicious cases, with one test results currently pending.

In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, we will now be carrying the influenza vaccine. We will also be participating in the Merck sponsored campaign, Community Immunity, where we are offering a $15 discount for all influenza vaccines given on June 20th. Please call our office to schedule an appointment.

Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection that causes symptoms similar to those of Bordetella (bronchiseptica). Symptoms include coughing, discharge from the nose and/or eyes, loss of appetite, lethargy (lack of energy), and fever. We recommend that any dog with a social lifestyle (comes in contact with dogs outside the household, goes on pack walks, goes to dog parks, grooming, daycare, or boarding), receive both the CIV and Bordetella vaccines to help prevent communicable upper respiratory infections. Kennel cough is a broad term commonly used to describe upper respiratory infections caused by various microbes, including both strains of CIV and Bordetella.

Canine Influenza (“dog flu”) has been in the news again following several outbreaks in various parts of the country with a growing number located in the southeast. This has resulted in significant interest in the disease, as well as increasing questions and concerns from pet owners who have dogs with social lifestyles, including those that visit dog parks, attend doggy daycare, or participate in sporting or show events.  
To help ensure that you have the information you need to help protect the health and well-being of your dog, as well as other dogs or cats* you may have in your household, please note the following tips. Additionally, talk to your veterinarian about whether or not vaccinating against both strains of dog flu may be right for your dog.  
Dog flu is NOT the same as Canine Parainfluenza or Bordetella. 
There are two strains of dog flu – canine influenza virus (CIV) H3N8 and canine influenza virus H3N2. H3N8 has been around for several years but H3N2, an Asian strain of dog flu, was first identified in the United States in early 2015, which means dogs have not been exposed to it before and have no immunity.  
CIV H3N8 has been found in 421 states since first identified in 2003, and CIV H3N2 has been diagnosed in 30 states in the just the past two years.2 
H3N2 is incredibly contagious. It can be spread easily by direct contact with infected dogs (sniffing, licking, nuzzling), through the air (coughing, barking or sneezing), and by contact with contaminated objects such as dog bowls and clothing. 
A dog may have the CIV H3N2 strain of dog flu for up to 24 days3, which means the dog is contagious and spreading the disease throughout that time period. As a result, the infection can spread quickly among social dogs including those in sporting and show events.  
Nobivac® Canine Flu Bivalent THE IMPORTANCE OF VACCINATION is recommended for healthy dogs 7 weeks of age or older as an aid in the control of disease associated with CIV H3N8 and CIV H3N2. Primary immunization requires two vaccinations given two to four weeks apart. Please allow two weeks after the last vaccination before your dog engages in social activities. 
Annual revaccination with one dose is recommended.4  
Vaccination is key to helping prevent the spread of canine influenza. "Dogs at risk should be vaccinated at least yearly with both influenza strains, H3N8 and H3N2, in addition to the other causes of 'Canine Cough',” says Dr. Ronald Schultz, DVM, Professor of Pathobiological Sciences at the University Of Wisconsin School Of Veterinary Medicine. 
Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or take their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus.  
Owners should call their veterinarian immediately if their dog has the following clinical signs: 
o Coughing 
o Discharge from the nose or eyes 
o Loss of appetite 
o Lethargy/lack of energy 
*Dog flu has been diagnosed in cats, with both cat-to-cat and dog-to-cat transmission identified. There is no feline vaccine to protect against dog flu.  

Canine Influenza Virus
Canine Influenza Virus is spread through:
o Close proximity to infected dogs (it is airborne and can travel up to 20 ft.; Dog parks are ideal for spreading the virus)
o Contact with contaminated items (bowls, leashes, crates, tables, clothing, dog runs, etc.)
o People moving between infected and uninfected dogs
o The virus lives up to 24 hours on soft surfaces and up to 48 hours on hard surfaces.
Some exposed dogs will be subclinical carriers - meaning some dogs will contract and spread the virus without showing symptoms.
Dogs show clinical signs within 24-48 hours and can shed the virus for up to 28 days from exposure.
Most dogs will completely recover with proper treatment.
Dogs that regularly interact with dogs outside of their own family or frequent places where many dogs gather are most susceptible to exposure to Canine Influenza Virus.
Dry, hacking cough (similar to kennel cough)
Lack of appetite
Discharge from the nose or eyes
Fever (normal temperature is 101 - 102)

The best protection is vaccination. There is now a single vaccination for both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of the virus. The vaccination requires a booster injection two weeks after the initial vaccine. Vaccination provides the best chance of immunity within 7-14 days of booster injection.
Isolate sick animals and keep them isolated for up to 30 days after symptoms subside.
Practice good sanitation. Use a bleach and water mixture diluted to 1-part bleach x 30 parts water to disinfect common areas such as tables, bowls, leashes, crates, etc. Allow items to thoroughly air dry for a minimum of 10 minutes before exposing dogs to them.  Bleach breaks down quickly so solution should be made daily. Keep in mind that bleach becomes inactive in UV light. If mopping use two buckets so as not to cross contaminate areas
Wash your hands frequently, ideally between handling different dogs. At the very minimum, hand sanitizer should be used between handling dogs.
Use disposable gowns or wipe down clothing and shoes with a bleach solution between dogs or after leaving an area where dogs congregate.
Food/water bowls should be made of stainless steel instead of plastic because scratched plastic is hard to fully disinfect.

Treatment of Canine Influenza Virus requires veterinary assistance. If you believe your dog may have Canine Influenza Virus, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Untreated, the illness may progress to pneumonia or other, more serious problems. H3N2 can lead to severe secondary pneumonia which can cause extremely sick dogs with potential fatalities.
Most dogs take 2-3 weeks to recover from the illness.
Any dog suspected of having Canine Influenza Virus should be immediately isolated from other dogs and should not attend dog shows, day care, grooming facilities, dog parks, or other places dogs gather. Dogs are contagious for up to 30 days once they have started showing symptoms.
Contact your veterinarian to let them know that your dog may be showing symptoms of Canine Influenza Virus. If your dog is going to a veterinary hospital or clinic, call ahead to let them know you have a suspected case of Canine Influenza Virus. They may ask you to follow a specific protocol before entering the clinic to minimize the spread of the disease, including waiting in your car until they are ready to examine your dog.
Keep sick dogs at home and isolated from other dogs and cats until you are certain the illness has run its course (typically 3-4 weeks).

Consideration for Event Venues
Use a bleach and water mixture diluted to 1-part bleach x 30 parts water to disinfect common areas including show floors, grooming tables, ring gates, in-ring examination tables and ramps, and x-pens. Allow solution to completely dry (at least ten minutes in order to assure virus has been killed). Bleach breaks down quickly so solution should be made daily. Keep in mind that bleach becomes inactive in UV light. If mopping use two buckets so as not to cross contaminate areas.
When wiping down hard surfaces paper towels are preferred over cloth.
Consider having two exam tables at every ring so that they can be cleaned and allowed to air dry frequently in between classes.
Provide hand sanitizer in each ring and in grooming areas.
Exhibitors should consider grooming dogs at their cars instead of using grooming areas where dogs are in very close proximity.

1Source: Syndromio Surveillance Data of Cynda Crawford, DVM, Ph.D., University of Florida; Edward Dubovi, Ph.D. Cornell University; Sanjay Kapil, DVM, Ph.D., ACVIM, Oklahoma State University; Rhode Island State’s Veterinary Office; and IDEXX Laboratories. February 2017. 
2Source: IDEXX Laboratories, Feb. 2017. 
3Updates in Canine Influenza Virus: Management, treatment and prevention of disease. VETgirl Webinar, July 27, 2015. Archived at 
4Product label.