Dr. Sudduth on the News to Discuss Canine Influenza

hospice03Dr. Sudduth will be on Fox News at 9 pm tonight discussing the outbreak in Chicago of a new strain of Canine Influenza virus.

Because of recent cases of canine influenza in the Chicago area, Northwest Animal Hospital recommends staying abreast of developments on this outbreak by contacting Dr Sudduth if you have travel plans to these areas in the near future.

To our knowledge, at present we have not seen cases in our area to date, with the caveat to note that sneezing and coughing can be seen with a number of conditions, not all of which are canine influenza or infectious respiratory conditions. For instance, kennel cough caused by exposure to the parainfluenza virus and or bordatella, a bacteria, will cause similar symptoms of sneezing and coughing.

The only way to conclusively tell the difference, is to perform a lab test, which isolates the pathogen involved. Cases of infectious viral upper respiratory disease are often treated in a similar manner: antibiotics and non-steroidal medications and supportive care. But there are complications in some cases and it should be noted that each situation is unique and should be evaluated by a veterinarian familiar with these diseases.

No positive cases of canine influenza, also known as dog flu, have been submitted to the Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Colorado State University in the last few years. However, it is a highly contagious disease that could be contracted by dogs traveling to infected areas, which is why pet owners need to do their homework before taking their pet to another state.

It can survive on inanimate objects like leashes, water bowls, food bowls, brushes and human clothing for 24 hours, and it can live on a person’s hands for about 12 hours, so it’s important to wash your hands and use general sanitary precautions like you would to prevent the spread of the human influenza.

The strain afflicting the dogs in Chicago is an H3N2 strain caused by a virus closely related to Asian strains currently found in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations, according to Cornell University. It is not known to spread to humans. Almost all dogs exposed to the virus will become infected, but only about 80 percent of those dogs will show signs. Those symptoms are coughing, fever, yellowish-green colored nasal discharge, dehydration and lethargy. The other 20 percent will show no signs of sickness, but will still be contagious.

The vast majority of these dogs have a mild form of the disease that lasts for about two to three weeks and most will get better with just supportive care. About 10 percent of these dogs can develop pneumonia, which can be fatal. In Chicago, according to reports, the more severely affected dogs have generally been less than a year old or older than 7 years old.

Dogs typically show signs of the disease two to four days after exposure. This incubation period between exposure and when symptoms develop is when dogs are the most contagious to other dogs. Dogs can shed the virus for up to seven to 10 days after exposure, but continue to be contagious during this time. Because of this, infected dogs need to be quarantined from other dogs for about two weeks.

Stay tuned to Northwest Animal Hospital website and Facebook for updated information.

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