Canine influenza vaccination information.
Influenza is getting a lot of attention these days. With school back in session we are seeing increased
outbreaks of Swine flu (H1N1) on campuses all over this country. Interestingly enough, we have a similar
situation in dogs. Until recently, the influenza virus was not recognized in dogs. The majority of infectious
upper respiratory disease in dogs was attributed to “kennel cough complex”; bronchitis caused by an
assortment of viruses and bacteria, the most common being the bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica.
In 2004 an outbreak of respiratory disease in Florida racing greyhounds was attributed to a mutation of
the horse flu virus. Since 2005, this now named “canine flu” virus (H3N8) has been documented in 30
states and the District of Columbia.
Because this is a novel virus, and dogs have no protection against it, the infection rate (morbidity) is
very high. Of those infected, some will clear the infection without any symptoms, the majority will develop
flu like symptoms: fever, lethargy, coughing and runny nose,and will eventually recover, and a small
number will progress to pneumonia which can be life threatening. – Sound familiar?
The incubation period is 2-5 days and infection can last from 2-4 weeks. Dogs without symptoms are
capable of shedding virus, and therefore transmitting the disease to other dogs, and dogs are most
contagious during the incubation period when symptoms may not be evident.
Humans are not susceptible to this flu virus.
The disease cannot be differentiated from”kennel cough complex” without blood testing, and vaccinations
for Bordetella, Parainfluenza, or Adenovirus do not offer any protection from the canine flu.
According to Patti Cynthia Crawford, DVM, PhD, of the University of Florida College of Veterinary
Medicine, dogs that are in shelters, boarding facilities, training classes, daycare facilities, grooming
shops, dog parks and dog shows are at highest risk for exposure.
A new vaccine has just been developed to minimize the impact of the virus. Similar to human flu vaccines,
there no guarantee that the vaccine will prevent the disease, but will minimize the symptoms and
decrease the potential for shedding virus.
Although we have not had any outbreaks of respiratory disease at Naples Safari, we want to insure the
health of all of our guests. With the virus being identified in the Naples /Fort Myers area, and the
impending arrival of our Snowbird friends from states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio , Illinois
Connecticut and New York, (all states where the disease has been documented), we weighed the existing
information about canine influenza and the associated risk factors, and have elected to require this
vaccine for all Boarding and Daycare guests as of 10/1/2009. The vaccine is a killed virus vaccine, and
is therefor incapable of causing influenza in dogs that receive the vaccine. The vaccination is not
necessary for dogs that are never placed in group situations.
The vaccine requires 2 boosters spaced 2-4 weeks apart. It takes 10 days after the second booster for
adequate protection levels to develop.
Please feel free to call, email or comment on our blog if you have any questions.
Additional information about canine influenza and the vaccine can be found from the CDC, American
Veterinary Medical Association and Schering-Plough Animal Health by clicking on the links below:
Schering-Plough Animal Health
Centers for Disease Control