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Posted on 08-05-2015

Your pet professionals at the Seneca Animal Hospital want to make you aware of a new strain of canine influenza (H3N2) that has been making its way toward Upstate South Carolina.  The original outbreak occurred in Chicago but more recent outbreaks have been documented closer to home in Asheville and Atlanta. We are including links to some very good information about this newest strain and how to protect you and your pets.

AVMA:  Canine Influenza Q&A 
https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Control-of-Canine-Influenza-in-Dogs.aspx

Merck Animal Health:  Canine Influenza Cross-Protection (H3N8) & (H3N2)
http://www.doginfluenza.com/

UGA School of Veterinary Medicine:  Canine Influenza Facts
http://vet.uga.edu/images/uploads/hospital_files/files/Canine_Influenza_Facts.pdf

Although a commercial vaccine for this new strain is not available, one of the canine influenza vaccine manufacturers, Merck, is recommending that all at-risk dogs be vaccinated with the currently available vaccine.  To encourage compliance, Merck is offering to cover all costs for any dog definitively diagnosed with either strain of influenza, H3N8 or H3N2, as long as it has been vaccinated properly for the available influenza vaccine.  Merck acknowledges that it is not known if the H3N8 vaccine will cross-protect against the H3N2 strain but has observed that there have been no positive cases involving dogs that have been properly vaccinated with the current vaccine.  We are hoping this is a good sign for cross protection.

After review of the available literature and consulting with various experts, the doctors at SAH have determined that it is in the best interest of our patients and clients to require all our canine boarding and grooming patients to have the influenza vaccine.  We are hopeful that this additional precaution will reduce the severity of an outbreak should one occur in the Upstate.

Please review the above links and feel free to call with any questions.

Thank-you!

Your friends at SAH

Important Notes

*At risk dogs include those who are frequently or regularly exposed to other dogs such as at boarding or day care facilities, dog parks, grooming salons, social or competitive events, or other areas where dogs commingle.  These areas represent an increased opportunity to come in contact with the virus.

*Most important time is during the incubation period of 2-4 days after exposure. During this time, dogs are not showing any symptoms but are the most contagious.  The virus can live in the environment and is spread through aerosolized respiratory secretions (sneezing, coughing).

*Signs and symptoms: Not all infected dogs will show symptoms. Most common symptoms are seen after 2-4 days of the virus incubating in the body and can include coughing, sneezing, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, water consumption changes.  Death is not a common outcome but suppression of the immune system can lead to secondary infections. 

*Diagnosis: There are many other pathogens that can mimic influenza and differentiation is made only by submitting nasal swabs to certain laboratories in the United States.

*Proper H3N8 influenza vaccination: 2 initial doses 2-4 weeks apart then annual booster

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