What is Canine Influenza?
A highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs caused by an influenza A virus. The first strain in the United States was identified in 2004 and a subsequent multi-state outbreak occurred in 2015. Infections are typically sen in places where dogs congregate and canine influenza has been detected in most states. Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine tracks the latest cases in the U.S..
How is it transmitted?
The virus spreads through aerosolized droplets (coughing or sneezing) from infected dogs or direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Keep in mind, affected dogs may not exhibit clinical signs and still actively shed the virus. Dogs frequently exposed to other dogs or areas where dogs are regularly present are at greater risk. Studies have confirmed that shedding can occur for up to 24 days. Influenza A viruses typically remain viable in the environment for less than 48 hours. Humans handling both infected and healthy dogs can greatly contribute to disease spread.
What are the clinical signs?
A mild cough, low grade fever anorexia, lethargy, fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, and.or dyspnea. Dogs may develop a more sever form presenting with high grade fever, tachypnea and may develop a secondary pneumonia. Signs typically appear within one to five days after a dog is infected.
How is it treated?
Treatment is supportive and dependent on the dog's condition and symptoms.
Is there risk to people?
To date, there had been no documented evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people. In 2016 there was documented evidence of spread H3N2 canine influenza from infected dogs to cats. People should still exercise caution around sick dogs to avoid unnecessary risks.
How can it be prevented?
Vaccines are commercially available. Although, vaccinated dogs should not have contact with other dogs or exposure to areas that dogs typically frequent for a minimum of 21 days after vaccination. Veterinarians should advise clients about prevention based on potential risk of exposure. Many disinfectants inactivate the virus including bleach, antimicrobial detergents and common household cleansers. Influenza viruses can spread the most when animals are in close contact, therefore, isolation of sick dogs is paramount. Kennels, bowls, toys and other items should be disinfected to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.