Canine Influenza Outbreak - Montgomery County, MD
Updated - August 29, 2013
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has recently reported twenty confirmed cases of Canine influenza in Montgomery County. Canine influenza causes an acute respiratory infection and is a highly contagious virus. There are two general clinical symptoms: a mild syndrome with a cough; and a more severe respiratory disease that can lead to death.
The milder syndrome of canine influenza mimics kennel cough, and canine influenza virus infections are frequently mistaken for infections due to the Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. The cough associated with this milder version lasts for 10 to 21 days despite therapy with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Most dogs will have a soft, moist cough, while others have a dry cough similar to that caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus infection. Many dogs will have nasal discharge and a low-grade fever. The nasal discharge likely represents a secondary bacterial infection that quickly resolves with a broad-spectrum bactericidal antibiotic.
Some dogs develop a more severe disease with clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high fever (104F to 106F) and increased respiratory rate and effort. Dogs with pneumonia often have a secondary bacterial infection and have responded best to a combination of broad-spectrum bactericidal antibiotics and maintenance of hydration with intravenous fluid therapy. The veterinarian will consider the clinical symptoms of the affected dog in determining the appropriate treatment protocols.
Fatal cases of pneumonia have been reported in this as well as other outbreaks. In previous outbreaks the fatality rate has been low, at 1% to 5% -- however it is too early in the reporting of this disease event to provide good data on the fatality rates associated with the current outbreak.
Prevention of canine influenza infection is best achieved through good isolation and sanitation practices. Dog owners are advised to avoid high animal density situations such as boarding facilities, doggie-daycare facilities, groomeries, pet stores, dog shows, canine competition events, and dog parks. Owners who come into contact with sick dogs should exercise extreme care to disinfect themselves and their clothing before coming into contact with their own pets. If your dog cannot avoid high animal density situations, vaccination is recommended.
Owners of sick animals are advised to keep their dogs isolated from other dogs until the affected dog is completely recovered and unlikely to spread the disease.
Gaithersburg Veterinary Clinic has a supply of canine influenza vaccine. Vaccination requires an initial dose followed in two to four weeks by a booster. It should be noted however, that vaccination is not guaranteed to prevent infection and will have minimal effectiveness until two weeks after the second dose. As with the human vaccine, the canine influenza vaccine is only protective against one subtype of influenza virus (H3N8). There is at least one other known subtype (H3N2) of the canine influenza virus. Further, as with any vaccination, there exists the possibility of side effects including, but not limited to: lethargy, vomiting, soreness at the vaccination site, and fever. Vaccination is contraindicated in dogs under the age of 8 weeks and in dogs with kidney disease.
Please contact Gaithersburg Veterinary Clinic at 301-519-3456 if you have any questions regarding canine influenza.