A local animal shelter is experiencing an outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). Because CIV is easily spread, the Cherry Hill Animal Hospital team would like to share some information with dog owners to help protect your pets.
What is Canine Influenza?
- Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is a highly contagious respiratory virus similar to the flu viruses that infect humans. There are two strains known to infect dogs.
- CIV H3N8 was the first strain found in Florida Greyhounds in 2004. It is now endemic (regularly found) in dog populations in New Jersey, Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
- CIV H3N2 was first isolated in the U.S. in Chicago in 2015. It is a bird flu that transitioned to dogs.
How is CIV spread?
- CIV is spread through respiratory secretions from cough or a sneeze and contact with infected surfaces.
What are the signs of CIV?
- Discharge from the eyes and nose
- Most dogs will develop mild upper respiratory signs that will resolve within a few weeks. A percentage of dogs will develop more severe disease that can result in pneumonia. The death rate for these more severe cases can be 5-10%.
Can a dog be contagious before or after signs have developed?
- A dog can be shedding the virus 2-5 days before signs develop.
- Dogs suspected of being infected or diagnosed with CIV need to be isolated from other dogs for 4 weeks.
Is there a vaccine for CIV?
- Yes! There is a vaccine that protects from both strains of the virus.
- Dogs vaccinated prior to exposure have significantly less severe clinical signs, recover more quickly, and have less viral shedding than unvaccinated dogs. Death rates are significantly lower for vaccinated dogs.
- The initial vaccine series consists of two boosters 3-4 weeks apart. The vaccine is then boostered yearly.
Which dogs should receive the vaccine?
- Since CIV H3N8 is endemic in NJ and PA, the vaccine should be considered for all dogs.
- The vaccine is STRONGLY encouraged for any dogs that go to boarding, grooming, doggy daycare, dog shows, agility events, and/or dog parks.
- People with dogs that plan to foster and/or adopt from shelters should also strongly consider having their dogs vaccinated as shelter/foster dog populations are at high risk of infection with CIV.
Is CIV contagious to people?
- Neither strain has been known to infect people.
- Rarely, cats have been infected with H3N2, but this usually only occurs in shelter populations.
What should I do if I think my pet is infected with CIV?
- If your dog is demonstrating the signs listed above, please contact Cherry Hill Animal Hospital immediately. Early testing and treatment can often improve outcomes for many patients.
If you have questions about Canine Influenza Virus, the vaccine, or your pet’s overall health, please contact us.