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The first case of Canine Influenza Virus (H3N8) was diagnosed in Wisconsin this week in Madison. This dog had been in Chicago where they have been experiencing an epidemic of more than 1000 cases and five dogs have died of the disease.
There is no outbreak in Milwaukee or Southeastern Wisconsin at the present time (as of April 9th).
Here are the facts:
This is the first outbreak in ten years. The last outbreak was at Dairyland Race Track in Kenosha.
There are over a thousand cases confirmed in Chicago but no cases in Milwaukee as of April 9th.
The virus is spread via direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs and by contact with contaminated inanimate objects. It is not transmissible to humans or cats.
The disease is very similar to kennel cough but lasts longer, makes dogs much sicker and has a higher fatality rate. Keeping your pet away from close encounters with other dogs will significantly reduce their risk.
Symptoms of CIV although not very specific include fever, cough, nasal discharge, sneezing, ocular discharge, lethargy and decreased appetite.
If you want to be safe, keep your dogs out of contact with other dogs, daycares, kennels, grooming facilities and dog parks until the outbreak passes. We will carry the vaccine for clients who want it but at this time we are not necessarily advocating wide use of the vaccine.
The Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) vaccine is considered a “lifestyle” vaccine much like bordetella which means the decision to vaccinate a dog against CIV is based on risk of exposure. Other vaccines such as distemper and rabies are considered “core” vaccines.
Initially two CIV vaccines are given three weeks apart. Maximum protection occurs only at two weeks after the second vaccine. After the initial series, annual vaccines are required to maintain protection.
AVMA background information- https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx
AVMA recommendations - https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Control-of-Canine-Influenza-in-Dogs.aspx
If you have questions after reading this or checking out the resources, please call us at 414-962-8040 and ask to speak to a veterinary technician. Avoiding exposure to other dogs remains the foundation of prevention.