Canine Influenza: Your Questions Answered
Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs caused by a virus. The canine influenza virus is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza and it's thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine influenza virus. Two clinical syndromes have been seen in dogs infected with the canine influenza virus - a mild form of the disease and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia.
Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to "kennel cough." For this reason, canine influenza virus infections are frequently mistaken for "kennel cough." Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
Dogs with the severe form of canine influenza develop high fevers (104 degrees F to 106 degrees F) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.
Because this is a newly emerging disease, almost all dogs, regardless of breed or age, lack immunity and are susceptible to infection. Virtually all dogs that are exposed to the virus become infected, and nearly 80 percent show clinical signs of disease. Fortunately, most affected dogs have the mild form.
Do dogs die from canine influenza?
Fatal cases of pneumonia resulting from infection with canine influenza virus have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate (5 percent to 8 percent) has been low.
How widespread is the disease?
The first recognized outbreak of canine influenza in the world is believed to have occurred in racing greyhounds in January 2004 at a track in Florida. From June to August of 2004, outbreaks of respiratory disease were reported at 14 tracks in six states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Texas, and West Virginia). Between January and May of 2005, outbreaks occurred at 20 tracks in 11 states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). The infection has also been confirmed in pet dogs in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Washington, DC. It is now found in most states in the continental U.S.
How is a dog with canine influenza treated?
As with any disease caused by a virus, treatment is largely supportive. Good animal care practices and nutrition assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response. In the milder form of the disease, a thick green nasal discharge, which most likely represents a secondary bacterial infection, usually resolves after treatment with antibiotics. In the more severe form of the disease, medication and hospitalization are often required.
Is canine influenza virus transmissible from dogs to humans?
To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people.
Do I need to be concerned about putting my dog in daycare or boarding it at a kennel?
Dog owners should be aware that any situation that brings dogs together increases the risk of spread of communicable illnesses. Good infection control practices can reduce the risk of infection, however, the risk still exists.
My dog has a cough. What should I do?
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that he or she can examine and evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Canine influenza virus can be spread via direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs, and by contact with contaminated inanimate objects. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to them. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent transmission of infection to susceptible dogs. Clothing can be adequately cleaned by using a detergent at normal laundry temperatures.
Is canine influenza transmissible to from dogs to horses or other animal species?
At this time, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza from dogs to horses, cats, ferrets or other animal species.