The Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) has become more prevalent in the U.S. within the last decade. It was first identified in Florida in March of 2004 in racing greyhounds. It is believed that the original strain of Influenza (H3N8) that was affecting dogs first developed in horses and unfortunately jumped species. Since this initial discovery, dogs in nearly every state in the US have been affected by this virus. Most recently, we have identified another strain of Canine Influenza H3N2 in dogs in Chicago in March 2015. This strain had been seen in canine patients in China, South Korea, and Thailand, but until this outbreak in Chicago, it had not yet been diagnosed in dogs in the US. Rarely, Canine Influenza can spread to feline patients, as we saw in 2016 when a group of shelter cats in Indiana contracted the Influenza virus from infected dogs in the shelter.
Patients who develop CIV experience a persistent cough, thick nasal discharge, and often high fevers (104-105 degrees). They may also be lethargic, decreased appetite, and have eye discharge. Secondary bacterial infections are common in dogs diagnosed with Influenza and can cause further complications in treating the disease. Testing is available to determine whether the patient has CIV vs other canine respiratory diseases and infections that present similarly.
Treatment for CIV is primarily symptomatic and will depend on the severity of the illness in each patient. Some may require antibiotics and NSAIDs to help with secondary bacterial infections, fevers, and inflammation or pain. Many patients require hospitalization and IV fluids to improve hydration and oxygen therapy when breathing difficulties occur. These patients must be handled with extreme care in the hospital because of the contagious nature of CIV. These patients will need to be isolated from other patients in the hospital to prevent the spread of the virus.
There is a vaccine available for both common strains of CIV. In the Dubuque area, we have not seen any CIV cases since the original outbreaks in 2015 and 2016. However, we do carry the vaccine, and if you frequently travel with your dog in the US, you may want to consider having your dog vaccinated for CIV. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available for cats at this time. Please feel free to contact the clinic if you are interested in getting your dog vaccinated for Canine Influenza Virus. We are always happy to answer your pet healthcare questions!