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Canine Influenza: What you need to know
In January, several cases of canine influenza were documented in Helena and in Butte. While such cases remain isolated and do not appear to be a threat to the Missoula community at this time, we want to provide the following information for our pet owners.
1. What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza is a canine upper respiratory tract infection caused by the influenza A virus; most notably the H3N2 and H3N8 strains.
2. How is it spread?
Canine influenza is highly contagious. It is spread through aerosolized respiratory secretions, ie coughing, barking, sneezing, in addition to contact with contaminated objects like food bowls and infected surfaces.
3. What are the signs?
Two forms of disease are clinically recognized: the mild form and the severe form. Up to 80% of dogs that are exposed to the virus can develop clinical signs. Although canine influenza can be fatal (mortality rate less than 10%), most dogs will recover is 2-3 weeks.
Mild form: These patients may develop a soft cough that may persist for up to 3 weeks. Some patients may have nasal and/or ocular discharge and sneezing. They may also exhibit a decreased appetite and lethargy.
Severe form: These patients may develop a high fever in addition to signs of pneumonia.
4. Can canine influenza be transmitted to humans? What about cats?
There is no evidence that canine influenza (H3N2 or H3N8) can be transmitted to humans. There is some evidence of transmission of H3N2 from dogs to cats in Asia, but no cases thus far in the United States.
5. Do I need to vaccinate my pet?
All dogs are at risk as this is a novel virus. Based on your pet’s lifestyle, our veterinarians can help you determine if your pet should be vaccinated against canine influenza. Keeping your pet updated on other important vaccines like adenovirus, parainfluenza and bordetella (Kennel Cough) are also important for keeping your pet healthy.
6. Does Grant Creek Veterinary Services have the vaccine?
Yes. We carry the vaccines for both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains. Both vaccines are given as a set of injections given 3-4 weeks apart and these vaccines are updated yearly. Canine influenza vaccines are not considered part of their core vaccines and our veterinarians can help you determine if vaccination for canine influenza is necessary.
At Grant Creek Veterinary Services, we are committed to high quality veterinary care through the life of your pet. Please do not hesitate to call us at (406) 541-8181 with any questions or concerns.