Canine Influenza Outbreak

Dr. Jen Lehr

In April, a large outbreak of Canine Influenza began in the Chicago area. There have also been sporadic cases reported in several other Midwest cities. In the past week positive dogs have been reported in Georgia and Texas. To date there have been no cases reported in Kansas. KSVDL has tested a number of canine samples but none have been positive.

This outbreak is very notable because the influenza subtyping performed at Cornell University and University of Wisconsin showed that some of these cases were caused by a unique strain of Canine Influenza, H3N2. Prior to this outbreak, Canine Influenza in the United States had been caused by H3N8. Canine Influenza caused by Influenza H3N2 has been present in Asia for some time.

Interestingly the H3N2 subtype has also been reported to cause respiratory disease in cats as well.

Unlike influenza in humans, Canine Influenza is a non-seasonal disease. It is rapidly and efficiently transmitted in places where dogs congregate, such as boarding facilities, grooming establishments, veterinary clinics, kennel, shelters, shows, and racetracks.

Dogs with influenza typically present with a cough. Some dogs also have a fever, nasal or ocular discharge, sneezing, lethargy, and anorexia. These signs are often indistinguishable from the more common “kennel cough”. Diagnostic testing plays an important role in reaching a definitive diagnosis to develop an effective treatment plan. Even in the face of an outbreak, there may be more than one pathogen circulating in a population.

Most dogs with Canine Influenza will recover with supportive care. Supportive may include fluids to maintain hydration status and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to relieve fever.

Since secondary bacterial infection infections are not uncommon, antimicrobial therapy should be considered. Rarely, dogs will die fr om acute primary influenza or secondary bacterial infections even with appropriate treatment.

The current vaccine contains the previously common strain H3N8. The strain involved in this outbreak is H3N2, not the H3N8 strain. It is not known if the current vaccine will be beneficial.

As more information on Canine Influenza is known, we will update any new information on our website http://www.ksvdl.org/resources/canine-influenza-outbreak.html. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for instant notification of developments in this outbreak.

To read about Canine Influenza Testing Options at KSVDL, please go to the NEW test section of the newsletter.

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