Is your dog at risk of canine influenza?
It was discovered in Florida during research into the causes of kennel cough amongst greyhounds, and is thought to be a variation of horse influenza. It is an airborne disease and is most likely to be found where many dogs are housed in close proximity to each other. Roughly 16% of dogs who are exposed to the disease develop symptoms, and of these cases, about 6% prove fatal.
The symptoms of canine influenza are a high fever, coughing and sneezing, a runny nose, excessive lethargy or depression and a lack of appetite. Of course, many other illnesses are characterised by coughing and sneezing so you shouldn't immediately assume your dog has influenza, but if you are concerned you should consult your veterinarian, particularly of your dog's temperature reaches 106 degrees.
Canine influenza is a virus and therefore does not respond to antibiotics. In severe cases, the damage to the respiratory system leads to a secondary pneumonia infection, and it is this that usually causes deaths. Pneumonia is treatable with antibiotics and a high fluid intake, so the number of fatal cases of influenza can be reduced. Research into a vaccine for canine influenza is currently in progress, but it may not be available for another couple of years.
If you are planning on leaving your dog in kennels you should check their policy on respiratory infections. Ask whether they isolate any dog that develops an infection, whether it is influenza or something less harmful such as kennel cough. Also make sure that they will inform you if your dog has come into contact with another dog with a respiratory infection.
A recent case in Pittsburgh saw the high quality boarding facility, Misty Pines, temporarily closed because thirty of their dogs developed canine influenza. None of the dogs died and the facility was reopened once the infection had run its course. Canine influenza is only infectious for ten days and has an incubation period of two to five days so it is perfectly safe for dogs to board there again now the infection has gone.
Although the infection is more common in places where dogs are grouped together, you shouldn't let this put you off buying a dog from a shelter. You will, however, want to check the shelter's policy on new arrivals. Do they isolate them for the first few days to ensure they don't have the infection? If you already have a dog at home, you may want to keep your new pet separate from them for a few days just to be on the safe side.
Canine influenza does not pose any risk to humans as they cannot become infected. However it is believed that humans can carry the virus on their hands, clothes and shoes so you should be aware of this. In some cases it is believed that employees of dog shelters or kennels have transmitted the virus to their own dogs in this way.
Although canine influenza is clearly an issue that you should be aware of, and take precautions against, you should not let it stop your dog from living life as usual. And you should not stop using your usual pet facilities. If you want to find out about any outbreaks of the virus in your area contact your local veterinarian or the state veterinary medical association, who will be able to give you local information and some peace of mind.
Reprinted with permission: www.article-directorysite.com