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Canine Influenza Virus Update

Wednesday, April 8, 2015  
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What you need to know about Canine Influenza

Recent reports have indicated that there is a canine influenza outbreak in the Chicago area.  So far, it has not spread to Indiana, but this is a highly contagious disease. 

What is Canine Influenza?

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.

The H3N8 equine influenza virus has been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. 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. This is now considered a dog-specific lineage of H3N8. In September of 2005, this virus was identified by experts as “a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population” in the United States.

As a pet owner, here are five important things you need to know:

1.     Dog owners who are traveling are advised to keep their dogs separated from all other dogs. Dog owners visiting Chicago should not take their dogs with them. With spring break and holiday travel, it is best to be safe than sorry. If you are boarding your dog in a kennel, be sure to give the kennel the authority to be treated by a veterinarian if needed.

2.     People can’t get this influenza.  It is transmitted between dogs.

3.     Signs of canine influenza may mimic other illness but may include: 

A dry hacking cough
Coughing up a white, foamy phlegm.
Lack of appetite
Runny nose
Rapid breathing

4.     Here is a website for additional information:

5.     Always contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.


For veterinarians, here are five important things you need to know:

1.      There are no confirmed cases of the disease in Indiana. 

2.      Discourage travel to the Chicago area for your clients, if possible.

3.      Any suspected Canine Influenza case should be handled just as cautiously as Parvovirus and kennel cough. That means that any patient in the hospital that is suspicious of Canine Influenza and doesn't need oxygen should go into isolation; all isolation and disinfection protocols should be followed.

4.      Talk with your pharmaceutical or distributor representatives regarding vaccine options.

5.      AVMA information for veterinarians: or call the IN State Board of Animal Health at 317/544-2400.


Resources for DVMs and Clients:

Indiana State Board of Animal Health

Dog Influenza Information - for Pet Owners

Dog Influenza Information - for Veterinary Professionals

Canine Influenza FAQ:  Questions, Answers and Interim Guidelines

Background Information - What is Canine Influenza?

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