Monday, December 3, 2012


Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by a virus of the family Orthomyxoviridae, the influenza viruses. The most common symptoms in humans are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, headache (often severe), coughing, weakness/fatigue, and general discomfort...from:

Now that we have moved into the month of December, the seasonal surge of human influenza has begun and it will remain to be seen if this is a typical year in which "only" 250,000-500,000 people die around the world from this disease.  Or, if it is a pandemic year, the deaths could go into the millions. 

Only in the last 10 years has a canine influenza virus been recognized as a cause of potentially serious disease in dogs.  This virus is not identical to the one that causes human influenza but it does bear a lot of similarities.  One of the main differences is that the canine virus can cause this disease year round rather than the seasonal occurrence that is seen with the human virus.  Without all of us becoming virologists, it's important to understand the significance of influenza viruses, how they might affect our pets, and whether or not we need to be concerned about an influenza virus moving from us to our pets or vice versa.

Dog Flu Reported in San Diego County
Canine influenza was first reported in Florida in 2004 and has spread across the United States
A dog has tested positive for canine influenza in what’s believed to be the first documented case in San Diego County.  Dawn Danielson, director of the San Diego County Department of Animal Services, confirmed the positive test result Friday from a dog at the county’s shelter in Bonita.
While this isn’t the first case in California, it is the first reported case in the county according to the department.
Dogs that are infected will show symptoms including a cough, runny nose and fever. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease.
The virus does not spread to humans; however, it can spread from dog to dog through a human’s touch.
If a dog has a cough, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that he or she can examine and evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
Pet owners can also request a vaccine to protect their dogs from this influenza.

Adapted from:

Vaccinate dogs for influenza virus

John DeVries, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (American Board of Veterinary Pathology)
Q. I heard about the canine influenza occurring in Bergen County (NJ) recently. How concerned about my dog’s exposure do I need to be?
A. While there is no reason to overreact to this disease, prevention by vaccination is the most prudent way to protect your dog from the canine influenza virus (CIV).
What you should know about canine influenza: Canine flu (CIV) is a virus in dogs which causes an acute respiratory infection. It has been identified in shelters, humane societies, boarding facilities and veterinary clinics across the country. This highly contagious virus is a recognized respiratory pathogen in dogs and causes a clinical syndrome that mimics "kennel cough."
Because New Jersey is one of the many states in which outbreaks of the CIV have occurred, more and more kennels, groomers and veterinary hospitals are requiring vaccination against CIV in any pets that are admitted to their facilities. About 80 percent of dogs infected will show clinical signs which include fever, malaise and prolonged cough. Of those showing clinical signs, some will develop a severe form of the disease which often involves a secondary pneumonia manifested by a thick yellow-green nasal discharge and high fever. These cases frequently require extended and expensive hospitalization stays in strict isolation with intravenous fluid, antibiotic, and respiratory therapy. In spite of the best treatment regimens it is estimated that 3 to 8 percent may die of the disease and its complications.
Exposure: Because the virus is carried in respiratory secretions, dogs are potentially exposed to the virus in any place where dogs are in close contact. The disease may also be spread by contact with contaminated items such as dog toys, blankets, clothes, and even hands. If your dog falls into one of these exposure categories, vaccination is highly recommended.
Presentation: Canine flu presents itself in two forms – a mild self-limiting form and a severe pneumonic form. Dogs with the mild form have a cough that will last for two to four weeks often accompanied by a mucoid nasal discharge. The severe form quickly turns into pneumonia with a high fever, lethargy and lack of appetite.
The incubation period is two to five days, after which clinical signs appear. Infected dogs may shed virus for seven to 10 days. Nearly 20 percent of infected dogs will not display clinical signs and become silent shedders and spreaders of the infection.
Testing: If your dog shows signs of coughing and/or nasal discharge you should contact your veterinarian, who can perform a blood test to rule out canine influenza.
Vaccine: A safe and effective vaccine is available from Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health.
The vaccine has been shown to have virtually no side effects and is highly effective in either preventing infection or lessening the clinical signs and duration of infection and virus shedding.

Can Dogs Get the Flu?
Can dogs get the flu? This time of year is rough on people, with cold and flu viruses running rampant, but our canine friends can get sick, too. Because they cannot tell us their flu symptoms, it is important for us, as owners, to pay attention and know how to help them.

Canine influenza, or dog flu, is caused by a specific virus called H3N8. It used to be a horse disease, but it started showing up in dogs around 2004. Now that the virus has adapted into an illness that affects dogs, it is spread very easily. Flu symptoms in dogs include:
 •Runny Nose
 •Lack of Energy
 •Loss of Appetite
Fortunately, dogs rarely die from this illness. About 80 percent of dogs will contract at least a mild form of this sickness, because it is highly contagious and easily spread by respiratory secretions. If your dog is exhibiting flu symptoms, do not allow him to interact with other dogs, because the disease travels in airborne secretions, as well as contact with contaminated objects or people who have had contact with an infected dog. About 20 percent of dogs with flu symptoms can develop a more serious illness, like pneumonia.
People cannot catch canine influenza. However, flu strains mutate constantly, so it is a good practice to wash your hands and change your clothes if you have been exposed to a sick dog. In fact, it is a good idea to wash your hands after interacting with any dog, especially since some dogs with no flu symptoms can actually have the flu, and therefore transmit it to other dogs via human contact.
Your vet can test to confirm that your dog has the flu, using respiratory secretions or blood samples. Treatment typically includes medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to keep him or her hydrated. The vet may also prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics, especially if a bacterial infection is suspected as well.
All dogs are at risk for the flu, but some have an increased risk. Your dog may be at high risk if he enters dog shows, boards at a kennel or attends doggie daycare, attends a dog training class, visits a dog groomer, plays at a dog park, or encounters other dogs on a regular basis. The best protection for your dog is the canine influenza vaccine. The vaccine not only protects against the flu, but also helps the dog get over flu symptoms sooner, if he is already infected.
...check with your veterinarian to see if the vaccination is a good idea for your pet's situation.
Can You Give the Flu To Your Dog or Cat?
As autumn arrives, the approach of flu season is a real concern. Last year, thousands of people suffered from symptoms including a high fever, chills and fatigue—classic signs of the flu. Some 2,374 people in the United States were hospitalized for influenza during the last flu season—an incentive for many of us to get an annual flu vaccine, to avoid both getting sick and potentially passing on the flu to family members.
A group of veterinarians at Oregon State and Iowa State Universities is now looking into the risk of flu for an unexpected population that doesn’t have access to human flu shots: dogs, cats and other household pets. “We worry a lot about zoonoses, the transmission of diseases from animals to people,” said Christiane Loehr, a professor at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “But most people don’t realize that humans can also pass diseases to animals, and this raises questions and concerns about mutations, new viral forms and evolving diseases that may potentially be zoonotic. And, of course, there is concern about the health of the animals.”
We’re pretty well acquainted with zoonoses—diseases that can move from animals to humans—because of the high profile transmissions of the influenza strains H1N1 (“swine flu“) and H5N1 (“bird flu”) from animals in recent years. But, as it turns out, many diseases can also act as so-called reverse zoonoses, or anthroponoses, contagiously jumping from humans to other animals. This appears to be the case for H1N1: The researchers have discovered 13 cases in which H1N1 seems to have been passed from humans to pet cats, some of which ultimately died from the disease.
 The first recorded instance, described in an article published by the team in Veterinary Pathology, took place in Oregon in 2009. While a cat owner was hospitalized with H1N1, both of her cats (which stayed indoors and had no contact with other sick people or animals) came down with flu-like symptoms and eventually died. A postmortem analysis of their lungs and nasal cavities turned up the H1N1 virus.
In the years since, the research team has turned up 11 more cats, one dog and even some ferrets that seem to have been infected with H1N1 due to human contact. The animals’ flu symptoms—respiratory disease and, for some, eventual death—resemble the same symptoms suffered by humans who encounter severe strains of the flu.

For the roughly 100 million U.S. households that have a cat or dog, this news might trigger immediate concern, and the researchers say that anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should distance themselves from their pets in much the same way they would from other people. Since this area has been the subject of so little attention, they say that there might be many more undiscovered cases of the flu jumping from humans to pets. “It’s reasonable to assume there are many more cases of this than we know about, and we want to learn more,” Loehr said.

...all of the animals’ symptoms were similar to that of humans -- they rapidly develop severe respiratory disease, stop eating and some die. Serological studies suggest there is far more exposure to flu virus in cats and dogs than previously known.

Natural and experimental transmission of the H3N2 influenza virus from dogs to cats in South Korea showed the potential for flu viruses to be transmitted among various animal species, Loehr said. It’s unknown if an infected cat or other pet could pass influenza back to humans.
The primary concern in “reverse zoonosis,” as in evolving flu viruses in more traditional hosts such as birds and swine, is that in any new movement of a virus from one species to another, the virus might mutate into a more virulent, harmful or easily transmissible form.
“All viruses can, and do, mutate, but the influenza virus raises special concern because it can change whole segments of its viral sequence fairly easily,” Loehr said. “In terms of hosts and mutations, who’s to say that the cat couldn’t be the new pig? We’d just like to know more about this....”

Realistically, though, the actual number of animals infected is small when compared to the population at large.  The bigger worry is that the flu virus could mutate into a more dangerous form as it is transmitted from humans to animals.  "Anytime you have infection of a virus into a new species, it's a concern, a black box of uncertainty," Loehr noted.
The influenza virus in particular mutates notoriously easily, with entire segments of its genome changing within a generation. The reason that H1N1 was declared a “national emergency” in 2009 was because it was a strain that mutated when it jumped from pigs to humans, raising the possibility that it had taken on a more deadly form that could be transmitted more easily between people.
In a worst-case scenario, the pets we keep in our homes could serve as the same type of mutation-inducing vector—the flu could be passed from human to pet, mutate into a more dangerous form, and then potentially affect both humans and other animals. “In terms of hosts and mutations, who’s to say that the cat couldn’t be the new pig?” Loehr asked. “We don’t know for sure what the implications might be, but we do think this deserves more attention.”
At this point, a word about the "H_N_" designations of influenza viruses is in order.  To simplify it, an influenza virus has 2 main types of large proteins on its outer layer.  They are known as Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase, thus the "H" and "N".  There are several different varieties of each of these proteins and those are reflected in the numerical designation, such as the H3N8 of dog flu. 

If you've followed any of the coverage of a wide spread influenza outbreak, you'll remember that pigs and birds are always mentioned in the same article.  Going back even further, the place most likely to be at the center of any new form of influenza is China and the rest of southeast Asia...where, interestingly enough, there is the highest concentration of pigs and ducks found anywhere in the world.

...pigs can be infected with both human and avian influenza viruses in addition to swine influenza viruses. Infected pigs get symptoms similar to humans, such as cough, fever and runny nose. Because pigs are susceptible to avian, human and swine influenza viruses, they potentially may be infected with influenza viruses from different species (e.g., ducks and humans) at the same time. If this happens, it is possible for the genes of these viruses to mix and create a new virus. For example, if a pig were infected with a human influenza virus and an avian influenza virus at the same time, the viruses could mix (reassort) and produce a new virus that had most of the genes from the human virus, but a hemagglutinin and/or neuraminidase from the avian virus. The resulting new virus would likely be able to infect humans and spread from person to person, but it would have surface proteins (hemagglutinin and/or neuraminidase) not previously seen in influenza viruses that infect humans. If this new virus causes illness in people and can be transmitted easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic can occur.
Key Facts About Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)
Questions and Answers
What is canine influenza (dog flu) ?
Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus referred to as a “canine influenza virus.” This is a disease of dogs, not of humans.
What is a canine influenza virus?
The “canine influenza virus” is an influenza A H3N8 influenza virus (not a human influenza virus) that was originally an equine (horse) influenza virus. This virus has spread to dogs and can now spread between dogs.
How long has canine influenza been around?
The H3N8 equine influenza virus has been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. In 2004, however, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported. An investigation showed that this respiratory illness was caused by the equine influenza A H3N8 virus. Scientists believe that this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has now adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread efficiently among dogs. This is now considered a new dog-specific lineage of H3N8. In September of 2005, this virus was identified by experts as “a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population” in the United States.
What are the symptoms of this infection in dogs?
The symptoms of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose and fever, however, a small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease.
How serious is this infection in dogs?
The number of dogs infected with this disease that die is very small. Some dogs have asymptomatic infections (no symptoms), while some have severe infections. Severe illness is characterized by the onset of pneumonia. Although this is a relatively new cause of disease in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection, about 80 percent of dogs will have a mild form of disease.
How does dog flu spread?
Canine influenza virus can be spread by direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by contact with contaminated objects, and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing 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. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.
Is there a test for canine influenza?
Testing to confirm canine influenza virus infection is available at veterinary diagnostic centers. The tests can be performed using respiratory secretions collected at the time of disease onset or using two blood samples; the first collected while the animal is sick and the second 2 to 3 weeks later.
How is canine influenza treated?
Treatment largely consists of supportive care. This helps the dog mount an immune response. In the milder form of the disease, this care may include medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains well-hydrated. Broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.
Is there a vaccine for canine influenza?
Yes, an approved vaccine is available.
What is the risk to humans from this virus?
To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people and there has not been a single reported case of human infection with the canine influenza virus. While this virus infects dogs and spreads between dogs, there is no evidence that this virus infects humans.
However, human infections with new influenza viruses (against which the human population has little immunity) would be concerning if they occurred. Influenza viruses are constantly changing and it is possible for a virus to change so that it could infect humans and spread easily between humans. Such a virus could represent a pandemic influenza threat. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and its partners are monitoring the H3N8 influenza virus (as well as other animal influenza viruses) along with instances of possible human exposure to these viruses very closely. In general, however, canine influenza viruses are considered to pose a low threat to humans. As mentioned earlier, while these viruses are well established in horse and dog populations, there is no evidence of infection among humans with this virus.
My dog has a cough, what should I do?
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that they can evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
Adapted from:

Be sure to think about all of this if anyone in your household comes down with the flu this winter.


The Ohio State Buckeyes should most likely move up to the #3 spot in the AP College Football poll this week now that Alabama has defeated Georgia.  It's really a moot point since we are finishing our 1 year on probation and cannot play for the National Championship this year...but, it's still nice to be considered near the top of any of these lists.  This will give us a big boost as we look forward to the 2013 season.  Our basketball team is still in the Top 5 as well, so all is good in Columbus.

I wasn't going to mention the Pittsburgh Steelers until they started playing like the season meant something to them.  Well, today they did just that...they came from behind in the 4th quarter to beat the Baltimore, no less...something no team has done for 2 years.  With our injured starters starting to return to the line-up, we just might have a decent shot at the playoffs.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye saw the movie, Lincoln, this week and were very impressed with the way the film depicted the internal struggles that went on during the Civil War.  In addition, much of the movie was filmed in and around Richmond, VA, the capital of the Confederacy, and we recognized many of the local sites from our 25 years there.

With the beginning of December, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are ready to begin our medley of good old Christmas movies that we watch each year.  We always begin with Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and then watch about 9 more until Christmas Day.  Also, I put together a new music portfolio of about 15 hours of Holiday music on Windows Media Player.  You might not think there'd be any new Holiday music, but you'd be wrong.  We listened to some of it tonight and it was great!

~~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.~~


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