Indian Head Animal Hospital Announces Availability of Canine Influenza (Dog Flu) Vaccines

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Canine Influenza H3N8 is an emerging highly infectious disease. Due to the recent outbreak in Northern Virginia, Indian Head Animal Hospital has made this vaccine available to our clients.

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Canine Influenza H3N8 is an emerging highly infectious disease. Symptoms include cough, fever and lack of appetite. Canine Influenza is usually mild but can become quite serious in about 20% of dogs. A small number of dogs have died from complications associated with the H3N8 Influenza virus. The virus spreads through direct contact; through the air and via contaminated surfaces. This virus only affects dogs and does not affect humans. Due to the recent outbreak in Northern Virginia, Indian Head Animal Hospital has made this vaccine available to our clients.

If your dog boards at a kennel, goes to a groomer, daycare or a doggy park, attends shows or dog events, we recommend that your dog be vaccinated. If your dog is presently being vaccinated for kennel cough, it should receive the Canine Influenza Vaccine.

The initial vaccination requires two doses, 2-4 weeks apart, followed by annual revaccination.

Canine Influenza H3N8 (Dog Flu)

What is it?
Canine Influenza H3N8 is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific type A influenza virus; unlike the human influenza, it is not seasonal and can cause disease all year round. It was originally a horse virus that has spread to dogs (first case in 2004). It is NOT a human influenza virus.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms include cough, runny nose and fever, a small portion of dogs can develop severe diseases including pneumonia. 80% if dogs will have a mild form of the disease.

How does it spread?
By direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by contact with contaminated objects, and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Infected dogs shed the virus in their respiratory secretions for 7-10 days, during which time the dog is contagious to other dogs. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus for 14 days. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.

Who is susceptible?
Dogs of any breed and age are susceptible for contamination. Canine influenza is most likely to spread in facilities where dogs are housed together and where there in a high turnover of dogs in and out of a facility.

Risk for Humans?
To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza from dogs to people.

Is there a test for it?
The test available is performed using two blood samples (the first collected while the animal is sick and the second collected 3 weeks later) at a cost of $50 for each sample sent to Cornell University.

How is it treated?
Largely consists of supportive care. This helps the dog mount an immune response. This may include medications to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure hydration. Antibiotics may be used if a secondary bacterial pneumonia is suspected.

Is there a vaccine?
A conditional license was given to the vaccine in May 2009. Although the vaccine (killed) may not prevent infection, the severity and duration of clinical illness is reduced. Dogs that would benefit from this vaccine include dogs that are already receiving the kennel cough vaccine for Bordatella.

Due to the recent outbreak in Northern Virginia, Indian Head Animal Hospital has made the vaccine available to our clients. The vaccine is given by injection and requires two doses 2-4 weeks apart with a yearly booster.

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Joanne Gofreed
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