Now that Canine Influenza Virus (CIV, Canine Flu) has arrived in the Bay Area, what information do you need to know? Dr. Bela Kisamov, Chief of Shelter Medicine, at Contra Costa Animal Services, provides this insight.
What is Canine Influenza?
Canine Influenza is a highly contagious virus that affects dogs. The disease has been diagnosed recently in the San Jose and Mendocino areas. There is a possibility of CIV spreading to dogs within Contra Costa County.
There are 2 strains of this virus, H3N8 and H3N2, which are spread through an infected dog’s airway secretions on nearby contaminated objects (bowls, toys, hands, shoes, sneezed on floors, etc.).
How or where would a dog contract CIV?
Outbreaks are most common when dogs are in close contact, often in boarding kennels, veterinary clinics, shelters, dog parks, grooming facilities, etc.
How long are dogs contagious?
The virus can incubate for 2–4 days from the time of exposure to the start of showing any signs. This is also the period when dogs are the most contagious. Some infected dogs remain symptom free, but can still spread the virus to other dogs.
What are symptoms of CIV?
Clinical signs include: coughing, sneezing, discharge from the nose and/or eyes, and decreased appetite. If not treated, the disease can lead to pneumonia and, if severe enough, even death. All dogs can be at risk of contracting CIV, regardless of their breed, age, gender, or prior health.
What's the best way to keep my dog from getting CIV?
Prevention with vaccines, and isolation of infected or contaminated dogs, remains the best way to control the spread of the virus. The core sets of yearly vaccines do not provide immunity from CIV. A combination vaccine that includes both strains is recommended. An initial vaccine should be given and a second vaccine must be repeated within 2-4 weeks of that initial vaccine, to help provide immunity towards the virus.
Just like the human flu vaccine, the CIV vaccine does not provide guaranteed protection from development of the canine flu. But, it can decrease the severity of the infection, should a dog become infected.
Many vaccine clinics in the Bay Area, including Contra Costa Animal Services, are starting to provide low cost options for vaccinating against this disease. As with any medical issues or concerns regarding your pet, please speak with your veterinarian about the CIV vaccine and whether it's right for your dog.