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‘ Canine Flu in the Bay Area ‘ What you need to know to keep your dog protected
June 21, 2019

' Canine Flu in the Bay Area ' What you need to know to keep your dog protected. June 21, 2019

Canine Flu Update 

At least five dogs at the Oakland city shelter have confirmed cases of canine influenza, according to Oakland Animal Services director Rebecca Katz.If you have adopted a dog recently from this shelter be sure to keep your dog quarantined for the next 21-30 days .

While not every dog at the shelter is under quarantine, five out of ten samples the shelter had tested came back positive for the highly contagious virus.If you frequent dog parks and other areas where dogs congregate and your dog has NOT been vaccinated we are recommending as a precaution to not go to these areas for the next several weeks.

How is it spread?

Canine influenza is spread via direct nose-to-nose contact as well as via aerosolized droplets from coughing, sneezing and barking. Contaminated droplets can also land on surfaces such as floors and walls, food and water bowls, collars and leashes. It can also spread via people traveling between infected and healthy dogs. The virus (if it's not killed by cleaning agents) remains infectious on surfaces for 48 hours, clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours. The incubation period (the time before a dog shows symptoms of the disease) is 2-4 days from when they are exposed. Unfortunately, dogs are most highly contagious during this time frame. Dogs continue to remain contagious for at least 21 days .Therefore the recommendation set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is to keep dogs isolated and quarantined from other animals for at least 21 days. Virtually all dogs that are exposed will become infected with the virus but only 80% will develop outward signs of disease. 20% will show no signs, however they can continue to shed the virus and spread disease. At this time, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza from dogs to people and no reported cases of canine influenza in humans.
To reduce the spread of this virus, dogs with symptoms or who have been exposed to an infected dog should be isolated from other dogs for a minimum of 21 days. It is recommended that unvaccinated dogs not frequent areas where there is a known risk of potential exposure to canine influenza.
To help prevent the spread of canine influenza several boarding facilities are now also requiring this vaccination.

What are the symptoms?

There are two forms of canine influenza: mild and severe. Thankfully, the majority of dogs will contract the mild form of canine influenza, which is often self-limiting. The most common symptom is a cough that can persist up to 30 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Nasal discharge, eye discharge, sneezing, lethargy and decreased appetite can also be seen. Dogs who are more severely affected will often develop pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, yellow or green nasal discharge, increased respiratory rate and effort, severe lethargy and loss of appetite. Pneumonia is diagnosed by taking chest x-rays. The severe form of canine influenza can be fatal, although thankfully mortality rates are low.
What should you do if your dog is exhibiting symptoms? Do not allow your dog around other dogs or take him or her to areas frequented by other dogs, and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so they can evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

How do you diagnose canine influenza?

The most reliable way to confirm infection is with a paired blood test measuring antibodies which the body produces as a response to infection. We would draw a first blood sample within the initial 7 day window of your dog showing symptoms, and then draw a second blood sample 14 days later. The infection is diagnosed by comparing the samples: the second sample should show a marked increase in the number of antibodies, reflecting the body's response as it fights off the infection.
Another option is taking nasal and throat swabs for PCR testing, which looks for the DNA of the virus. This test has to be done within 3 days of a dog showing illness to be accurate. If this test is performed 4 days or more after symptoms have arisen, this test is less able to detect the virus.

How do you treat it?

Treatment is mostly supportive. Because canine influenza is caused by a virus, there is no medication available to treat it directly. Supportive treatment is often used to help a dog feel more comfortable and also to give them a better chance of fighting off the virus with their immune system. These treatments will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Examples of treatments include: antibiotics to fight off secondary bacterial infections and fluids if dehydration is present. In severe cases with pneumonia, often hospitalization is needed.

How do you prevent it?

Canine influenza vaccinations are available for both strains of the virus, referred to as "H3N8" and "H3N2". The vaccine we use at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center helps prevent both strains. This vaccine is important for dogs that will be at boarding facilities, grooming facilities, going to dog shows, going to dog parks or traveling out of state and within the state. With any flu vaccine (just like the ones people receive), there is always a chance that it will not be 100% protective. However, it provides benefit in that often the symptoms will be less severe and the window in which symptoms are present is often shortened. The vaccine is given as an initial vaccine followed by a booster shot given 2-4 weeks after the initial vaccine. While vaccine reactions are always possible with any immunization, we have not seen any increased evidence with the canine influenza immunization.
Optimal protection against canine influenza is reached 2 weeks after the second vaccine is administered. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that dogs receive this second vaccine 2 weeks prior to boarding or participating in any other social activity with other dogs.

Where can I find more information about canine influenza?

American Veterinary Medical Association
Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care canine influenza immunization recommendations:
All dogs should receive this vaccine annually if they socialize with other dogs. This would include dogs that go to dog parks, play groups, boarding, grooming or dog shows.
Puppies who are to be immunized against influenza should receive this vaccine before they are 4 months old.
After the initial vaccine is given, a booster shot is given 2 to 4 weeks later. Because it can take two weeks after the second shot before a dog's immunity reaches its maximum level, this second vaccine should be given at least 2 weeks prior to boarding, or grooming, or participating in any other dog social activity.

Canine Influenza vaccine appointments guidelines and cost:

The cost of the vaccine is $34.00 
If your dog has had an exam in the last 12 months an appointment can be made with a technician during regular business hours Monday – Sunday. If your dog has not had an exam in the last 12 months, an exam by a doctor will be needed ($64 ) at time of vaccination.

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