|Photo by Linda Aronson|
I remember concern about it and then the subject seemed to go away until the outbreak of Canine Influenza in Chicago, which was widely reported. There was an outbreak of H3N8 on the North Shore of Massachusetts in 2014 that seemed to be associated with dogs boarded in a specific kennel. There were other cases scattered throughout Massachusetts, but not many. They were isolated but the dogs had been exposed to other dogs in places where dogs were involved in canine activities. Dogs exposed to other dogs in close proximity would likely benefit from the vaccine for H3N8 along with kennel cough vaccine.
The virus in Chicago this year was different. It was H3N2. I wasn't surprised when I heard that this isolated case occurred in a dog who had traveled to Chicago.
In 2015 I can't imagine why we would think that a virus could be confined to one place. People travel with their dogs. We're in the middle of Summer vacation time and many of us love to travel with our four-legged companions since they are family members. How could we think that disease wouldn't travel from one place to another? It's not exactly a vacation souvenir that we want.
Interestingly, the disease in the Central Midwest bears a strong resemblance to one in Southeast Asia, a canine flu associated with dogs in the Korean Meat trade. It's hard for me to type those words. There's talk of people being interested in adopting dogs from that area of Southeast Asia. The ramifications of that is something to carefully consider because we must protect the dogs who are here.
|Photo by Gary Rohde|
In 2009 the USDA approved the first influenza vaccine for dogs. It can reduce the severity of the flu and damage to the lungs but it's something you need to discuss with your veterinarian. If you're planning to travel with your dog, now is a good time to have that conversation, before you and your dog leave on that trip.
There are, I believe, other canine influenza drugs in development. It's interesting to contemplate what they will come up with, if it will be something to cover upper respiratory diseases, or vaccines specifically for various specific variations.
If this new strain of Canine Influenza has appeared in my State, it can appear in yours, too. How much risk is there in taking your dog to the local dog park? That's a question for your veterinarian.
This is not a disease that can spread from dogs to people. But it is airborne and can easily spread from dog to dog. I didn't write about this to frighten you but simply to give you a heads-up so you are aware of the possibilities.