Canine Influenza H3N2

We continue to update this page.

In light of the extensive media coverage regarding the canine influenza H3N2 outbreak we have put together a little information sheet.
H3N2 is now included in the influenza vaccine offered at Boca Veterinary Clinic.

What is canine influenza?

Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) in the U.S. is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus.

Have there been any cases reported in Florida?

As of 2017 there have been a small number of cases reported in the state of Florida. We are in contact with our laboratory partners and the veterinary community to verify any cases in the state.

Should I continue taking my pet to the vet for routine visits?

Yes, in general most veterinary hospitals understand the risks of infectious diseases and take the necessary precautions. Routine vaccinations and medical care are essential in preventing many very serious and fatal diseases. Unlike the current canine influenza outbreak, these diseases are common throughout our community and could pose more of an immediate threat to your pet’s health. Please speak with your veterinarian if they are advising differently in your community.

What do I do if I think my dog might have the flu?

We suggest you contact your veterinarian immediately. At Boca Veterinary Clinic we have a procedure set-up for our possibly infectious patients. Please let the receptionist know when you setup the appointment that you think your pet might have canine influenza or may have come into contact with a possibly infected pet. Expect to go straight into a room upon arrival or into our isolation ward. In some cases the staff might be wearing protective clothing. At Boca Veterinary Clinic we take extreme care to keep our infectious patients isolated from the rest of our patient population and maintain the highest level of cleanliness.

Is this version of canine influenza different from previous versions?

Yes, the current outbreak of canine influenza is H3N2 while previous outbreaks are from H3N8 and H1N1. Until 2015 the current H3N2 strain had only been reported in Korea, China and Thailand, but not in the U.S.

How is it spread?

It is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs through:

  • Direct contact.
  • Nasal secretions (through coughing and sneezing).
  • Contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes).
  • By people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms can range from mild to severe and at times can be fatal. Some of the reported symptoms have been:

  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose.
  • Dry cough similar to the traditional “kennel cough” caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex.
  • Mild fevers.
  • High fevers.
  • Increased respiratory rate.
  • Respiratory infection.
  • Secondary pneumonia.
  • Death.

Is there a vaccination for Canine Influenza?

Yes, however the previous vacation for Canine influenza was for the H3N8 strain of the virus. Both strains (H3N8 and H3N2) are now included in Canine influenza administered at Boca Vet. There have been some anecdotal reports of cross coverage from the H3N8 vaccination to the H3N2 strain where some vaccinated dogs in large populations have not shown symptoms. However, there currently is no scientific evidence to back this up but testing is underway. We recommend the current H3N8 vacation for our social dog patients. In light of this outbreak we are pleased to say that all our daycare dogs already get vaccinated for canine influenza.

What is the protocol for the H3N8 influenza vaccine?

The current influenza vacation protocol for first time vaccination requires 2 doses administered 3 weeks apart. A single dose booster revaccination is then done yearly.

The vaccine labels states: “The vaccine is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with CI virus infection. Although the vaccine may not prevent infection altogether, efficacy trials have shown that the vaccination may significantly reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness, including the incidence and severity of damage to the lungs. In addition, the vaccine reduces the amount of virus shed and shortens the shedding interval; therefore, vaccinated dogs that become infected develop less severe illness and are less likely to spread the virus to other dogs. These benefits are similar to those provided by influenza vaccines used in other species, including humans. At this time, the possibility of cross-protection against H3N2 from the H3N8 vaccine is unknown.

The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine, and is not recommended for every dog. In general, the vaccine is intended for the protection of dogs at risk for exposure to the CI virus. These include those that either take part in activities with many other dogs or are housed in communal facilities, particularly where the virus is prevalent. Dogs that may benefit from canine influenza vaccination include those that receive the kennel cough (Bordetella/parainfluenza) vaccine, because the risk groups are similar. Dog owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine whether their dog’s lifestyle includes risks for exposure to the CI virus, and if the vaccine is appropriate for their dog.”

Should I vaccinate my dog against canine influenza?

We recommend discussing your pet’s vaccination needs with your veterinarian. Depending on your pets health needs we are currently recommending the influenza vaccine for our highly social canine pet patient’s.

What else can I do to help prevent my dog from catching influenza?

The best way to prevent your pet from becoming infected is to prevent their contact with infected pets. Here are some things you can do:

  • Avoid dog parks and other public places where the health of other animals is unknown.
  • Avoid contact with other pets in public. People might be able to transport influenza on their clothing.
  • Leash walk dogs in public.
  • Clean any possibly contaminated areas. The canine influenza virus appears to be easily killed by disinfectants, such as quaternary ammonium compounds (eg, benzalkonium chloride), aldehydes, phenols and bleach solutions.
  • Avoid public water bowls and bring your own water bowls when traveling in public.
  • Only board pets at reputable facilities who take to ensure disease avoidance.
  • Only take pets to reputable daycare facilities who take steps to ensure disease avoidance.

Is there a test for Canine Influenza?

Yes, we have a test to detect canine influenza, and have made the test available to our patients when needed. This is not a rapid test and results may take up to 4 days. Additionally, please let us know if you have any questions about contagious pet diseases. There are multiple disease that have similar symptoms. Furthermore, many of these diseases can also be tested for.

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