0 Comments | May 05, 2010

Canine Influenza: Virus Established In About 30 States

DVM Newsmagazine recently spoke with Patti Cynthia Crawford, DVM, PhD, clinical assistant professor of shelter medicine for Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, about the attention focused on canine influenza. Crawford states that we have not recognized previously that dogs were susceptible to infection by influenza viruses. This virus was first reported in dogs and associated with the occurrence of respiratory infections in 2004. So just five years ago, it was first reported, and I would say that it is now a recently recognized viral infection of dogs as opposed to newly emerging virus. Canine influenza is a community-acquired infection. It occurs in facilities where dogs are housed together and there is a high frequency of movement in and out of the facility. Dogs that are in shelters, boarding or training facilities, day-care centers, veterinary clinics, pet stores and grooming parlors are at the highest risk for exposure to canine influenza virus, especially if the facilities are in communities where the virus is prevalent. Like influenza viruses in other species, canine influenza virus causes an acute respiratory infection in dogs. The clinical signs are very similar to respiratory disease caused by other viruses and bacteria known to cause kennel cough. The term kennel cough is well recognized by dog owners and used by veterinarians to describe a cough that a dog develops while boarding, visiting the grooming parlor or after purchase from a pet store. The illness is very flu-like and similar to what humans experience when they are infected with an influenza virus. They experience a cough, which is the primary sign, sneezing and a runny nose. The cough can persist for tow to three weeks. Most dogs recover from the illness however, some progress to pneumonia, usually due to secondary bacterial infections. In which case will require intensive care in a hospital setting under veterinary supervision. Crawford suggests that when an outbreak occurs, the first step is diagnosis. It is very hard to know how to manage an outbreak of respiratory disease if you don’t know what is causing it. Crawford believes that the threat of an outbreak is more serious now because it can be spread between dogs. It is highly contagious, just like influenza viruses are generally. There is lab confirmation of infected dogs now in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Five years ago the virus was only detected in Florida. But as we began looking at more and more dogs across the country, the numbers increased to thousands and many more states. (DVM Magazine, August 2009)

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