The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture released information in early December indicating that there have been new cases of the canine influenza virus identified in Dane county in the recent weeks.  Based on what we know about this disease from the outbreak in Chicago during the spring, we are concerned about the threat posed to our canine family members in our area.

It is important to note that while there are new cases reported in Dane county, there has been no indication that the number of cases is growing.  This is significant because the Canine Influenza virus is highly transmissible; a lack of additional new cases appears to show that monitoring and quarantine efforts have been successful in holding back the spread to far.  Because this disease is spread by contact with other dogs, we expect that the number of cases will rise as we get to warmer weather and there are more group outdoor activities for our dogs to participate in.

The new cases reported this month are caused by the H3N2 strain of the Canine Influenza virus, which is different from the H3N8 strain that is more routinely seen in North America.  This is the same strain that caused the outbreak in the Chicago area.  This strain can cause dogs to be more ill than the more common one, with patients typically feeling poorly for 14 days, sometimes even 21 or more.  Clinical signs typically include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge (runny nose), lethargic behavior, and decreased appetite.

During the outbreak in Chicago there was no vaccine available for the new strain.  Since that time, there is a vaccine that has been developed and licensed.  The new vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in clinical testing.  Currently, the Sun Prairie Pet Clinic considers both the H3N8 and H3N2 Canine Influenza vaccines important for dogs that frequent dog parks, attend day care or group training classes, or are involved in activities that could bring them in proximity to a large number of other dogs (competitions, shows, etc.).  A good ‘rule of thumb’ is that if you feel that your dog benefits from a Bordetella (“Kennel Cough”) vaccine, then you should consider having your dog vaccinated for H3N8 and H3N2 Influenza.

If you have any questions regarding the Canine Influenza virus, or if you feel that your dog is showing clinical signs of canine influenza, please call the Sun Prairie Pet Clinic at 608-834-8118.