There has been an increase in the number of respiratory infections in dogs in the Chicago area. This outbreak has spread very quickly and many Chicago clinics are working to identify the infectious agent responsible. There have been several confirmed cases of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) as well as cases of kennel cough.
Canine Influenza Virus was first diagnosed in 2004. It is an H3N8 influenza virus that is spread between dogs. It is not transmitted to humans. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, fever, and decreased to no appetite. A small percentage of dogs can develop more serious issues like pneumonia.
CIV cannot be easily distinguished from other causes of respiratory infection based on clinical signs alone. It is often mistaken for kennel cough. The term kennel cough loosely describes a mix of infections that are both viral and bacterial (Bordetella). It is also known as Infectious Tracheobronchitis (ITB). These infections cause the upper airways to become inflamed. The main symptom of kennel cough is a dry, hacking cough, which can cause dogs to bring up white phlegm. The cough can worsen after exercise or excitement. Most times there are no other symptoms present, but some dogs may have a fever and nasal discharge.
Canine influenza virus and Bordetella can be spread the following ways: to other dogs by direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by uninfected dogs coming into contact with contaminated objects, and by moving contaminated objects or materials between infected and uninfected dogs. Although canine respiratory infectious diseases are very contagious, not every dog exposed will contract the infection. Symptoms will vary from a cough to lethargy and high fever.
Supportive care is normally the mainstay of treatment for CIV. Antibiotics are sometimes used for secondary infections. Dogs with pneumonia usually require more intensive treatments in a veterinary hospital.
Many other animal hospitals and kennels in the area are currently having outbreaks of CIV. It is recommended to owners that they limit or eliminate social activities at this time to decrease exposure. Also, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not expose other dogs to the virus. Clothing, toys, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.
There is a vaccination available to treat CIV. It is a series of two shots given three weeks apart. The vaccine is known to significantly reduce the clinical signs, severity, and spread of canine influenza infection. If you have a dog that will be in a kennel or around other dogs, please consider scheduling an appointment to get the CIV vaccine