Spread Of Canine Influenza Virus By Dr Ed Mapes Stonebridge Animal Hospital Mckinney, Tx
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Canine Influenza Virus has been in the news lately as it spreads across the country. According to a recent report by the Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center, cases have been documented in Alabama, California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa and Indiana.

Canine influenza, or canine flu, is a highly contagious infection caused by an influenza virus; two strains have been classified as H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 was responsible for the original outbreak in this country in 2004; the H3N2 strain is newly-emerged and is responsible for much of the recent outbreak.

This disease is spread between dogs via aerosolized respiratory secretions and contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The virus can remain viable on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. Infection is greatest after close contact between dogs.

Since this is a newly-mutated viral disease, all dogs are susceptible to infection since they have no immunity to the organism. Exposure to the virus will cause disease in a high percentage of cases, and the dogs will become ill. Although most dogs have a milder form of canine influenza and recover without complications, some may develop severe pneumonia and respiratory symptoms.

The majority of infected dogs develop a mild form of the disease, the most common clinical sign being a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, lethargy and anorexia may also be observed. Many dogs develop a purulent nasal discharge and low-grade fever. The nasal discharge is usually caused by secondary bacterial infections.

The more severe form of canine influenza features a severe, almost continuous cough with purulent oral and nasal discharges. These dogs can run fevers up to 106 degrees F with severe depression and lethargy. These patients must be housed at our animal hospital in McKinney, TX for intravenous therapy and supportive care.

We can now test for the presence of influenza virus to confirm diagnoses and better prevent spread of disease from infected individuals. Nasal and pharyngeal swabs are done if within four days of clinical symptom development. Serum samples are best used for more prolonged infections.

Any dog that may have been exposed to this virus and demonstrates respiratory symptoms should be checked by a veterinarian at an animal hospital in McKinney, TX to have testing done, begin appropriate treatment, and prevent spread of the disease.

Vaccination to provide immunity against this organism is the key to combating Canine Influenza. We have had the vaccine for two years at this animal hospital in McKinney,TX and have vaccinated hundreds of dogs. I strongly recommend that dog owners have the pets immunized to protect them and to help stem the spread of this disease throughout the canine population.


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