A new strain of Canine Influenza has recently emerged in the United States. The virus was responsible for more than 1,000 dogs in the Chicago area becoming sick with flu-like symptoms. There has been no evidence that this virus will infect humans.
Like other Influenza A viruses, this virus infects nearly all dogs that are exposed to it and about 75-80 percent of infected dogs will show symptoms of illness. Signs of illness can range from mild discharge from the eyes and nose with a low fever (102 – 103 degrees Fahrenheit), to a more severe illness involving a high fever (104 -106 degrees Fahrenheit), thick white discharge from the eyes and nostrils, and severe congestion in the lungs. Some severe cases may result in death.
Healthy dogs become infected by exposure to fluids excreted by infected dogs during the process of exhaling, sneezing or coughing. Dogs usually start showing signs of illness 2-4 days after exposure, but may be shedding virus and are the most infective to other dogs prior to showing any signs of illness. Infected dogs may be contagious to other healthy dogs for at least 10 days after onset of illness. They may show signs of illness, such as coughing and nasal discharge, for up to 21 days.
Diagnosis is difficult to make by visual signs alone because the signs of the disease are similar to other canine respiratory diseases, such as kennel cough. Definitive diagnosis will need to be made with the assistance of your veterinarian and a diagnostic facility.
Treatment is available. Normally good husbandry including good climate control, good sanitation and nutritious food will be enough for recovery. In some cases, antibiotics, intravenous or subcutaneous fluids, or other treatments may need to be given or prescribed by your veterinarian.
Stopping introduction into your facility or home is the key to preventing this virus. Whenever, possible, prevent your dogs from having direct contact with other dogs. If new dogs are brought into your facility, be sure to isolate them from your dogs for at least 21 days before introducing them to the general population. Always practice good sanitation, including: sanitizing surfaces and bowls with disinfectant after cleaning and , making certain employees and visitors wash their hands before handling dogs, after coming into contact with a dog’s body fluids (including saliva), after cleaning cages, and upon arrival at and before leaving the facility.
Should your facility become infected with the Canine Influenza virus, it is important that you self-quarantine, preventing the movement of any dogs into or out of the facility for at least 21 days after the onset of visible signs of illness in the facility. This does not apply to animals that are moving on and off the premises for veterinary treatment.
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