You may have heard the news that there is currently a Canine Influenza outbreak in and around Chicago. As of today, there have been approximately 1,000 cases of Canine Influenza in the Chicago area, with five deaths related to the infection. Several doggie daycare and boarding facilities have closed down in the affected areas, and people are being urged to keep their pets home to prevent further spread of the virus.
Canine Influenza causes signs that are similar to other upper respiratory infections, especially kennel cough. Affected dogs will likely have a cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and generally feel ill. Canine Influenza is caused by a virus, but secondary infections such as pneumonia can occur. Because the infection is viral, there is no specific treatment available and we can only offer supportive therapy. The virus is airborne, and can be spread even before a dog is showing signs of being infected. Some dogs can be infected with the virus and not show any signs of illness at all, yet these dogs can still spread the virus. A dog can also be infected with the virus by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.
There is concern that the virus will make its way to our area. Chicago is fairly close, and it is quite common for people to travel with their pets. Our team at Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic, with clinics locations in Chaska and Chanhassen, is currently working to develop a protocol on how to handle an outbreak should one occur here.
There is a Canine Influenza vaccine available to help protect your dog from infection. However it has been determined that the strain of influenza affecting the dogs in the Chicago area is different than the strain in the currently available vaccine. There does seem to be evidence, though, that dogs vaccinated with the product available today do have some immunity against the current strain. We are recommending the vaccine for any dog that goes to dog parks, boarding facilities, doggie daycare, groomers, or anywhere else where they will be around other dogs. The vaccine would also be recommended before any traveling with your pet. The vaccine available is a series of 2 immunizations; the first one followed by a booster 3 weeks later. If you are interested in this vaccine for your dog, or if you have any questions, please call us at 952-448-2936.