The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association strongly recommends dog owners to remain vigilant and take precautionary measures to prevent their dogs from exposure to the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), as new Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) cases continue to be reported with the approach of winter.
Less than a year after the confirmed CIV outbreak in the Chicago metropolitan area, a conditional product license for a vaccine was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect the canine population against this newly identified strain of CIV H3N2. Edward Dubovi, Ph.D., Professor of Virology and Director, Virology Laboratory, Animal Health Diagnostic Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University recently stated that, “Based on experimental studies in Asia and the rate of spread we’ve observed, I would estimate that H3N2 produces 10 times more virus than H3N8, which makes it far more contagious.” He also noted “preventing the transmission of the disease through vaccination is highly recommended for those dogs that have lifestyles that put them at greater risk.”
Due to the extremely contagious nature of the canine influenza virus, all dogs are at serious risk of infection when exposed to this virus. CIV is easily aerosolized when dogs cough and sneeze, where the virus droplets can be spread up to 25 feet. CIV can also be spread through objects shared by dogs in addition to dog to dog contact. Even dogs exhibiting no signs of illness can be contagious, asymptomatic carriers to other dogs.
According to Chicago Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Rosemarie Niznik:
“The Canine Influenza H3N2 strain is still present in the Chicago area. This new strain of the Canine Influenza Virus from Asia is different than the H3N8 stain that emerged in Florida in 2004. This new Canine Influenza Virus first appeared in the Chicago area in early 2015. Since the Canine Influenza Virus can live up to 48 hours on surfaces, close attention to personal and pet hygiene is the best defense to prevent spreading the infection. Pet owners are encourage to be on the lookout for coughing or sneezing dogs in their households and neighborhoods.
Pet owners are advised to speak to their family veterinarian about vaccinating their dog with the H3N2 and H3N8 Canine Influenza Virus vaccines. Their veterinarian will consider their individual pet’s lifestyle and risk factors for exposure to these Canine Influenza Viruses and make an individualized CIV prevention plan.”
Pet owners should contact their veterinarian immediately if they see any of the following symptoms in their dog(s): persistent, hacking cough, lethargic behavior, a poor appetite, nasal discharge, trouble breathing, or a fever. Sick dogs should be isolated from other animals.
Due to the high risk of canine influenza virus spreading from dog to dog, pet owners should exercise caution when their dogs either congregate with other dogs or participate in any group dog activities. Potential areas where dogs interact include boarding kennels, doggie day care facilities, dog parks, grooming facilities, obedience and agility classes, dog shows, and pet expos.
Vaccines are available for some of the causative agents responsible for the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex. The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association recommends that pet owners speak with their veterinarian about available vaccinations based upon lifestyle and risk exposure of their pets.
The CVMA is an association of over 1000 veterinarians and 4000 support staff who lovingly assist more than one million Chicago area pets and their families. The membership of the CVMA is dedicated to the health and well-being of animals through its nurturing of the human animal bond.