Dog Flu Outbreak Hits Chicago, Sickens More Than 1,000 Dogs

dog flu

As you may or may not have heard, currently there is an outbreak of the ‘Dog Flu’ in Chicago

In an advisory issued by the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, officials said more than 1,000 cases had been identified over the past month and five dogs have died from the disease.

The Chicago Park District began posting warning signs at dog parks last week advising dog owners to keep their pets away from any place where there is close contact with other dogs, a spokeswoman for the organization said. Over the weekend the group canceled their annual doggy Easter egg hunt held at a local dog park to prevent the spread of the illness.

What are the signs of this infection in dogs?

Dog flu symptoms are a lot like human symptoms and include fever, cough, nasal discharge and lack of energy. And just like human flu it can be caught from sneezes and coughs, nose-to-nose contact or from infected surfaces. Symptoms last for about two weeks until the virus runs its course.

How serious is this infection in dogs?

The percentage of dogs infected with this disease that die is small. Some dogs have infections with no signs, while a small % have severe infections (less than 5%). Severe illness is characterized by the onset of pneumonia. Although this is a relatively new cause of disease in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection, about 80 percent of infected dogs will have a mild form of disease.

How does dog flu spread?

Canine influenza virus can be spread 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. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not expose other dogs to the virus. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.

What is dog flu (Canine Influenza)?

According to the CDC, Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus referred to as a “canine influenza virus.” This is a disease of dogs, not of humans.

The “canine influenza virus” is an influenza A H3N8 influenza virus (not a human influenza virus) that was originally an equine (horse) influenza virus. This virus has spread to dogs and can now spread between dogs.

In 2004, however, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported. An investigation showed that this respiratory illness was caused by the equine influenza A H3N8 virus. Scientists believe that this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has now adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread among dogs housed in kennels and shelters.

What is the risk to humans from this virus?

To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people and there has not been a single reported case of human infection with the canine influenza virus. While this virus infects dogs and spreads between dogs, there is no evidence that this virus infects humans.

The Vaccine

Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8
The first licensed vaccine to protect against canine influenza.

Features and benefits ( Merck)

Proven to significantly reduce the clinical signs, severity, and spread of canine influenza infection

-Reduced the incidence and severity of coughing
-Decreased the overall clinical signs of disease, including ocular and nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, depression, and dyspnea
-Reduced the days and amount of viral shedding
-Demonstrated protection against the formation and severity of lung lesions
-Contains killed (type A, subtype H3N8) virus combined with an adjuvant to enhance the immune response

Dosage and administration

-Subcutaneous injection
-Two 1-mL doses given 2 to 4 weeks apart
-Annual revaccination with 1 dose is recommended

– Contains gentamicin and amphotericin B as preservatives.
– Do not vaccinate pregnant bitches.
– The use of a biological product may produce anaphylaxis and/or other inflammatory immune-mediated hypersensitivity reactions.
Epinephrine, corticosteroids, and antihistamines may all be indicated depending on the nature and severity of the reaction.

What should you do?

1. Common sense needs to apply here.

There are 70 million dogs in the US and Canada, and 1000 cases..that puts the odds of your dog getting the disease at: .00143%..

About 1 in 100,000 dogs

Odds you will be injured by a toilet this year: 1 in 10,000

2. If you don’t live in Chicago, don’t even consider the vaccine

3. Most dogs ( 80%) have very mild symptoms, and some have no signs at all

4. This is a new disease, and new vaccine, with little information reported about side effects, in spite of over 1,000,000 doses.

Clearly there are adverse effects, as there are with all vaccines- more than the ‘anaphylaxis and/or other inflammatory immune-mediated hypersensitivity reactions. – that the company states

5. I won’t be vaccinating my dogs, nor would I be advising this if I were still practicing.

6. Similar to the flu in people, realize that most dogs have only mild signs IF they were to ever get it, and recover with simple supportive care.

7. Do what you can to keep your dog’s immune system strong.
– Good nutrition, ideally a quality holistic food, home recipes, raw food
-supplements to aid in immune function

Antioxidant vitamins and minerals

All of these are in my supplement, Ultimate Canine Health Formula

Best Wishes,

Andrew Jones, DVM

3 thoughts on “Dog Flu Outbreak Hits Chicago, Sickens More Than 1,000 Dogs”

  1. Thank you Dr. Jones!

    You are right on spot! You have always given the most educated and compassionate advise and I will be forever greatful for the honest suggestions that you have provided throughout the years. I listen to you. I respect you. Thank you. Charleen

  2. this flu has spread south now and is in Florida and No. Carolina—my Fl. vet said there is a vaccine that is two shots two weeks apart. I am staying from a planned dog show in Greenville, SC as I have a 13.5 year old Lab that is somewhat weak and don’t want him to contact it. My friend sent me this article and it is great.

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