As many of you are already aware, there has been fear of an outbreak with the Canine Influenza strain H3N2. Mostly concentrated in the Chicago area, this outbreak has had 1500 confirmed cases so far. At this time, there are no confirmed cases in Michigan or Ohio.
A LITTLE HISTORY: It is suspected that this strain of the canine flu originated in South Korea, where it has been present for a couple of years. Some of you may recall the 2004 Canine Influenza outbreak of the strain H3N8. It is that H3N8 strain that the current canine influenza vaccine was created to combat. To date, there are ZERO confirmed cases of H3N8 in Michigan.
A LITTLE BIOLOGY: There are five main causes of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease. The number one cause is Mycoplasma, a bacterium, that is not preventable with vaccinations. The second and third causes are Bordetella bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough) and Canine Parainfluenza virus, both of which are vaccinated against as a standard at T.A.H. with the Bordetella and DAPP vaccines respectively. The fourth cause is Canine Respiratory Coronavirus, which (along with mycoplasma), has no vaccination. Finally, the fifth cause is canine influenza. All of these causes present the same symptoms – coughing, nasal discharge and/or discharge from the eye, with or without a fever.
A LITTLE NEWS: At this time, there have been 1500 confirmed cases of H3N2 in the United States, zero confirmed cases in Michigan and Ohio, and six confirmed deaths, putting the mortality rate at approximately 0.4%. This shows us that H3N2 is a drastically LESS aggressive strain of the canine flu than the 2004 strain, H3N8. It has also been learned that symptoms present more severely with co-infection, meaning the pet has MULITPLE causes of distress (see “a little biology”) and not just the H3N2 influenza strain.
A LITTLE ADVICE: Currently T.A.H. does NOT vaccinate for canine influenza. Here is why…
1. There are no documented cases of canine influenza H3N2 in this area.
2. It is highly unlikely for your pet to catch this strain.
3. Because the current vaccine on the market was designed to combat a previous strain of canine influenza, there is no proof of the efficacy of the vaccine on the new strain.
4. We believe it is more important for our patients to be up-to-date on Bordetella and DAPP vaccines as these are much more common causes for Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease. Also, treating for these more likely causes can reduce the morbidity rate (chance a pet will show symptoms) of influenza.
5. If you fear your pet may have canine influenza, you may schedule an appointment at any time. Please be aware, there is a swab test available to check for canine influenza but will cost $210 in addition to your office call. This test is only viable if your pet has been showing symptoms for LESS than one week. Therefore we believe there is NO benefit to testing a pet for canine influenza without it presenting symptoms. It may be more cost effective for the doctor to recommend treatment without testing.
To sum it all up! We at T.A.H. are staying on top of all the latest news and reports regarding H3N2. At this time, we do not believe we are in a high risk area for our patients to contract this virus. If you are at all concerned, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. We do recommend making sure your dog is up-to-date on the DAPP and Bordetella vaccines to reduce the chance of symptoms and co-infection. If we hear anything that causes us to change our current position, you, our clients and friends, will be the FIRST to know.