Chicago, IL – The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association strongly advises dog owners to remain vigilant and take necessary action steps to prevent their dogs from exposure to the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), as new Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) cases continue to be reported throughout the Chicago metro area.
A strain of CIV H3N2, responsible for widespread illness in dogs in Chicago and throughout the United States, was identified in March 2015. The US Department of Agriculture has approved vaccines designed to address outbreaks and control CIV H3N2 in the canine population.
All dogs are at serious risk of infection when exposed to this virus because of the extremely contagious nature of the Canine Influenza Virus. CIV is easily aerosolized when dogs cough and sneeze, as the virus droplets can be spread up to 25 feet. CIV can also be spread through objects shared by dogs in addition to contact between dogs. Even dogs exhibiting no signs of illness can be contagious, asymptomatic carriers to other dogs.
According to Chicago Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Benjamin Welbourne:
“Recent, isolated, canine influenza outbreaks within the Chicagoland area remind us, as veterinary professionals, not to let our guard down on this highly contagious disease. Though uncommonly fatal, influenza can lead to debilitating complications for patients, and outbreaks can be detrimental to animal related businesses and shelters. Vaccination has to be considered, especially in high-risk and social patients.”
Due to the high risk of canine influenza virus spreading from dog to dog, pet owners should exercise caution when their dogs either congregate with other dogs or participate in any group dog activities. Potential areas where dogs interact include boarding kennels, doggie day care facilities, dog parks, grooming facilities, obedience and agility classes, dog shows, and pet expos.
Pet owners should immediately contact their veterinarian if they see any of the following symptoms in their dog(s): persistent, hacking cough, lethargic behavior, a poor appetite, nasal discharge, trouble breathing, or a fever. Sick dogs should be isolated from other animals.
Vaccines are available for some of the causative agents responsible for the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex. The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association recommends that pet owners speak with their veterinarian about available vaccinations based upon lifestyle and risk exposure of their pets.