February 24, 2016
Dog Flu in the News Recently

Recently there was a news story about “Canine Influenza” on TV and elsewhere.  Canine Influenza was first discovered in Florida several years ago.  A vaccine was developed but the outbreak died down and never spread any further so the need for the vaccine also faded.   Then in 2015 a severe outbreak occurred in Chicago that sickened thousands of dogs with less than 1% deaths.  This strain was determined to be the H2N3 virus.   The symptoms are generally not serious but include sneezing, coughing, running eyes, mild fever, and lack of appetite.  Many cases rarely show any symptoms at all.  Some older animals can be more vulnerable to dehydration or secondary pneumonia due to a poor immune system.  It can be very contagious especially when dogs are in close proximity with other infected dogs.  Another strain, H3N8 has been discovered recently from Asia and seems to cause similar symptoms.  There is only one commercially available vaccine so if you don’t know which strain you have, it may do no good.  This is the same problem we have in humans.  The influenza viruses mutate frequently which makes developing vaccines challenging and usually less than rewarding.  Right now, the current view professionally is to prevent exposure.   No cases have been confirmed or diagnosed in Oklahoma as yet,  therefore, most veterinarians do not carry the vaccine.  If you know you are traveling to an area where there have been cases, you can consider vaccination but you would need 2 boosters a month apart provided you know which strain you will need.  This doesn’t seem logical or feasible in most cases.  Veterinarians in Oklahoma are not recommending vaccination until we have more information or further outbreaks occur.   If you have reason to be concerned that your pet may be exposed, we recommend avoiding public areas such as dog parks, boarding or veterinary facilities, and groomers.  And if you are traveling, avoid high traffic areas at rest stops along the way.  If you have any further questions or concerns please call your veterinarian.