Virologists and epidemiologists have been and will continue to be vigilant for influenza viruses that cross species barriers (Avian Flu, Swine Flu) since they are more likely to cause problems of major proportions. With that thought in mind, dog owners might now be confronted with a relatively new influenza virus that represents a very rare event in adaptive evolution: the entire sequence of genetic information of the equine influenza virus was transferred to dogs and the virus adapted to the canine species to emerge as a new canine-specific virus (photo from Ken, in Flagstaff):
Helpful Buckeye will not attempt to turn all of our readers into virologists (I'm not one either) with this column of Questions On Dogs and Cats; however, it is important that all dog owners be informed as to the development of this new disease and what the current recommendations are. Stay tuned later in this issue for this discussion! Meanwhile, be sure to study this model of the basic Influenza virus:
Our polling question for last week provided some uplifting information. Most of you, as it turns out, have been able to successfully give medicine to your dogs...at a rate of 75%! That's pretty good when you consider how tough some dogs can be when you try to open their mouths. Be sure to answer the polling question this week in the column to the left.
CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST
1) How many of you, while filling out your income tax returns, have mused about the possibility of deducting your costs of pet health care? Well, if a Congressman from Michigan has his way, that possibility might become a reality. Read about his proposal here: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/08/17/tax-deduction-for-pet-care-proposed/
2) Many cities have tried different approaches to the pet population problem of unwanted litters. Ft. Worth, TX, has instituted a fairly high fee for the registration of intact (not neutered or spayed) pets and it will be interesting to see if this might be a solution: http://www.akc.org/news/index.cfm?article_id=3928
3) A man in Virginia is attempting to have a court decide if a dog has only the monetary value of its purchase or a greater value, based on emotional attachment. This decision could have some interesting ramifications: http://news.aol.com/article/virginia-court-to-rule-on-value-of/626193?icid=mainhtmlws-maindl5link6http%3A%2F%2Fnews.aol.com%2Farticle%2Fvirginia-court-to-rule-on-value-of%2F626193
4) In preparation for their upcoming pure breed event this Fall, the world's largest showcase of cats and dogs, the Cat Fanciers' Association and the American Kennel Club hope to inspire a little healthy competition by asking you to declare your canine or feline allegiance. You can register your vote here: http://www.akc.org/poll/special/meet_the_breeds.cfm
DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS
Helpful Buckeye has briefly touched on the subject of Canine (Dog) Influenza in past issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, at: http://questionsondogsandcats.blogspot.com/search/label/Dog%20Flu%20Virus and http://questionsondogsandcats.blogspot.com/2008/08/have-you-talked-to-your-cat-lately.html
The number of confirmed cases of this flu-like disease has been increasing and it has now been reported in more than half of the 48 contiguous states. In much the same way that humans are being made more aware of the new types of influenza infections, the American Veterinary Medical Association just released this update:
Canine Influenza--August 21, 2009
Canine Influenza represents a very rare event in adaptive evolution; the entire genome of the equine influenza virus was transferred to dogs, and the virus adapted to the canine species to emerge as a new canine-specific virus. Although the virus spreads readily from dog to dog, there is no evidence to support that it can be transmitted from dogs to humans.
The first recognized outbreak of canine influenza is believed to have occurred in racing greyhounds in January 2004 at a track in Florida. From June to August of 2004, outbreaks of respiratory disease were reported at 14 tracks in 6 states (Florida, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Kansas). Between January and May of 2005, outbreaks occurred at 20 tracks in 11 states (Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, West Virginia, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts). Florida, Colorado, and the New York City region have become endemic for CI (the virus is considered to be established in those areas), and Pittsburgh (PA) and Lexington (KY) may also be emerging as endemic areas. Sporadic seropositive dogs have been found in many other states throughout the nation. As of October 2, 2008, 1,079 cases of canine influenza were confirmed by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Health Diagnostic Center. At least one case of canine influenza was confirmed in 28 of the 48 contiguous states; no cases were confirmed in Alaska or Hawaii. Because this is a new influenza virus in dogs, they are not expected to have any immunity to canine influenza when first exposed to the virus. If the virus enters a kennel or other closed group of dogs, a high percentage of the dogs will probably become infected, and most of these dogs will show signs of sickness.
Canine influenza is spread via air-borne respiratory secretions and contaminated inanimate objects and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The incubation period is usually two to five days. Infected dogs shed virus for seven to 10 days after clinical signs first appear. Because this is a newly emerging pathogen, all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no naturally acquired or vaccine-induced immunity. Approximately 20-25% of infected dogs are expected to show no signs of illness, but can still shed the virus and disseminate the disease. Although most dogs will have a milder form of canine influenza and recover, some may develop severe pneumonia.
Virtually all dogs that are exposed become infected with the virus, but approximately 80% of these will develop clinical signs of disease. The approximately 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs of disease can still shed the virus and can spread the infection.
Canine influenza virus causes clinical disease that mimics kennel cough. Clinical disease may be mild or severe.
The majority of infected dogs (80%) exhibit the mild form. In the mild form, the most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Most dogs have a soft, moist cough, whereas others have a dry cough that is similar to that seen with kennel cough. Many dogs will have a purulent (pus) nasal discharge and a low-grade fever. The nasal discharge is usually caused by secondary bacterial infections.
Some dogs are more severely affected with clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever (104°F to 106°F) and increased respiratory rate and effort.
To date, there is no reliable rapid test for diagnosis of acute canine influenza virus infection. The most reliable and sensitive method for confirmation of infection is serologic testing. Antibodies to canine influenza virus may be detected in the blood as early as seven days after onset of clinical signs.
As for all viral diseases, treatment is largely supportive. Good care and nutrition may assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response. In the milder form of the disease, a thick green nasal discharge most likely represents a secondary bacterial infection that usually resolves quickly after treatment with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Pneumonia in more severely affected dogs responds best to a combination of broad-spectrum bactericidal antibiotics (to combat secondary bacterial infections) and maintenance of hydration via intravenous administration of fluids.
Currently available antiviral drugs are approved for use in humans only and little is known about their use, effectiveness, and safety in dogs.
Morbidity and Mortality
The morbidity rate (the number of exposed animals that develop disease) associated with canine influenza is estimated at 80%. Deaths occur mainly in dogs with the severe form of disease; the mortality rate is thought to be 1-5% or slightly higher. Higher case fatality rates have been reported in small groups of greyhounds that developed hemorrhagic pneumonia during outbreaks.
Prevention and Control
In veterinary hospitals, boarding and shelter facilities, the canine influenza virus appears to be easily killed by disinfectants commonly used in these facilities, including bleach. Protocols should be established for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting cages, bowls and other surfaces between uses. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water:
- before and after handling each dog
- after coming into contact with dogs' saliva, urine, feces, or blood
- after cleaning cages
- upon arriving at and before leaving the facility.
Isolation protocols should be rigorously applied for dogs showing clinical signs of respiratory disease. Clothing, equipment, surfaces and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease. Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus.
In May 2009, the USDA approved the licensure of the first influenza vaccine for dogs developed by Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health Corporation. The canine influenza vaccine contains inactivated whole virus.
The vaccine is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with Canine Influenza virus infection. Although the vaccine may not prevent infection altogether, trials have shown that the vaccination may significantly reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness, including the incidence and severity of damage to the lungs. In addition, the vaccine reduces the amount of virus shed and shortens the shedding interval; therefore, vaccinated dogs that become infected develop less severe illness and are less likely to spread the virus to other dogs. These benefits are similar to those provided by influenza vaccines used in other species, including humans.
The canine influenza vaccine is a non-core (not yearly) vaccine, and is not recommended for every dog. In general, the vaccine is intended for the protection of dogs at risk for exposure to the virus, which include those that either participate in activities with many other dogs or are housed in communal facilities, particularly where the virus is prevalent. Dogs that may benefit from canine influenza vaccination include those that receive the kennel cough vaccine, because the risk groups are similar. Dog owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine whether their dog's lifestyle includes risks for exposure to the virus, and if the vaccine is appropriate for their dog.
Helpful Buckeye would like to point out these additional facts about Canine Influenza:
- Unlike human influenza, this infection is not a seasonal infection. It can occur year round.
- Fortunately, most dogs will recover within 2 weeks without any further health complications.
- There is no evidence for any breed or age susceptibility for developing pneumonia during this infection.
- Dogs that mainly stay at home and walk around the neighborhood are at low risk. Dogs in shelters, boarding and training facilities, day care centers, dog shows, veterinary clinics, pet stores, and grooming facilities are at the highest risk for exposure to the virus.
- In addition to Canine Influenza not infecting humans, there is no documentation that cats have been infected either.
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
For those of you searching for just the right type of cover for a piece of furniture that will protect it as well, check out this product: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/08/19/sure-fit-quilted-soft-suede-pet-cover-review/
1) In what may be an indication of an upcoming featured service for your pets, read this interview with a small animal massage therapist: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/08/18/certified-small-animal-massage-therapist/
2) Some of you must have experienced a "Candid" camera moment with your cat or dog. See what other pet owners have witnessed: http://www.peoplepets.com/photos/funny/caught-on-camera-your-naughty-pets/1
3) There is still enough summer weather remaining to enjoy these "Summer Hot Dogs": http://www.peoplepets.com/photos/funny/summer-hot-dogs-buns-included/2
4) Continuing with that thought, here are "10 Signs It's The Dog Days Of Summer": http://www.peoplepets.com/photos/funny/10-signs-it-s-the-dog-days-of-summer/1
5) Since we're being a little corny this week, there's no reason to stop now! Enjoy these cat-dog hybrids that are someone's fantasy (cursor down the page to see all 13 of them): http://blogs.catster.com/the-cats-meow-a-cat-and-kitten-blog/thursday-thirteen-13-cat-dog-hybrids/2009/08/12/
6) If you think you know your dog breeds, here is a fun quiz for you (sponsored by the AKC): http://www.pawnation.com/2009/08/20/guess-the-breed-quiz/
7) Here's an interesting story about Lacey, a retired police dog, and her adoptive owners in Vermont. From the USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/life/columnist/pettalk/2009-08-04-laceys-fund_N.htm
The LA Dodgers continued to have problems beating the St. Louis Cardinals...if we have to face these guys in the playoffs, we will be in trouble.
Desperado and Helpful Buckeye saw the movie, Julie & Julia, this week and really enjoyed it! The discussions about food were mouth-watering and the creation of Julie's blog was interesting. We highly recommend it!
In the words of Count Basie, the esteemed jazz band leader, "I'm saying: to be continued, until we meet again. Meanwhile, keep on listening and tapping your feet."
~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~