Submitted by Tiffany on Sat, 09/19/2009 - 11:47am
The news is out! Humans are no longer the only members of the family to be affected by mutating flu viruses. Just as swine flu mutated to infect humans, the horse flu has mutated to infect dogs. The horse flu has been around for over 40 years, but in 2004 it was identified as a newly mutated canine influenza virus. What began as isolated cases of infection has grown into outbreaks across the country. Unfortunately for our canine companions, they have no natural immunity to this new virus.
Clinical signs of the virus emerge about 2-4 days after exposure and the virus sheds the most during this incubation period. This means that a dog is the most contagious before they ever show symptoms. Additionally, about 25% of dogs exposed to the virus may act as hosts without ever showing symptoms. These dogs are still able to spread the virus to others despite not showing any of the signs infection.
Most cases of canine influenza are mild forms and resolve with few complications. Symptoms of this virus are persistent cough (this may be dry and hacking or moist) that lasts up to 21 days, nasal discharge and fever. More severe cases can develop into pneumonia if left untreated. Treatment is mostly supportive and may include antibiotics to protect against secondary bacterial infections.
The virus is spread through the air and on contaminated surfaces such as food and water bowls. The virus can live outside a host for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces, 24 hours on clothing and 12 hours on your hands. It is recommended that symptomatic dogs be isolated for 2 weeks during treatment.
Until recently no vaccine has been available for canine influenza. The canine influenza vaccine, while still new, has proven itself to be a powerful weapon in the fight against the spread of canine influenza. University Animal Hospital is now offering this vaccination to their canine clients. This vaccination is administered similarly to the standard canine vaccinations and is boostered once in 3 weeks. The canine influenza vaccination is being offered to our clients at $40.00 per vaccine.
Because the virus is more prevalent in communal populations, the vaccination is recommended for dogs that regularly participate in activities such as boarding, visits to dog parks or training classes. Due to the minimal number of cases of diagnosed in Arizona, we are not requiring this vaccination for our boarding facility at this time.
If you have any further questions about canine influenza or think your dog is a good candiate for the vaccination, please give us a call at 480-968-9275 to schedule an appointment.