Why INFLUENZA of course!
Many of us are highly aware of the Avian Influenza outbreak that has been spreading throughout several states in the US and a couple of provinces in Canada. The outbreak has been devastating. It is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace and ravaging chicken and turkey farms. At last count, the outbreak had hit 15 states and 174 farms and because there's no vaccine, once a case has been confirmed on a farm then all birds, healthy or sick, must be euthanized to try to stop the virus.
Did you know that there is also an outbreak of Canine Influenza circulating in the US? I’ll admit, I’m more of a cat lover than a dog lover. Don’t get me wrong - I like dogs, but growing up on a farm I didn't have to take my beloved lab on daily walks or pick up her poop.....and there’s something to be said about cats and their independence. If they have food, water and a clean litter pan, they’re good for several days on their own!
It’s likely my bias for cats that is the reason it has taken me several weeks to blog about the canine influenza outbreak that made headlines in April after an estimated 1,000 dogs in Chicago contracted the virus. A single isolated city seem
concerning than the fact that the virus is popping up in other states. As of yesterday Alabama, California,
Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Iowa Georgia and Indiana have confirmed cases.
Similar to how respiratory disease spreads at a daycare or airport — with people sneezing and coughing on each other - dogs also spread the virus from nose to nose (or direct) contact between dogs. Travel plays a significant part in transmitting and expanding the outbreak. When we travel we increase the chance of exposing our dogs to dogs with the virus and inevitably we bring it back to our hometowns.
Similar to concerns with humans, very young and geriatric dogs are at higher risk for infectious disease and caution should be taken when these dogs are taken to dog parks, events, etc. Vigilance is important. Symptoms for canine influenza include signs of fever, lethargy, coughing and nasal or eye discharge. The good news is while most dogs are susceptible to the flu, most recover from the illness within two to three weeks.
Further good news is that similar to other Influenza Viruses (Human, Avian, Swine), canine influenza is still an easy to kill enveloped virus, meaning the virus is easily killed by disinfectants. Routine infection control precautions are key to preventing spread of viral disease within facilities. Protocols should be established for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting cages, bowls, and other surfaces between uses. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are unavailable) before and after handling each dog; after coming into contact with a dog's saliva, urine, feces, or blood; after cleaning cages; and upon arriving at and before leaving the facility.
If you’re a dog owner, I hope your pooch stays healthy!