New Canine Influenza requirements - effective 4/1/2016
An outbreak of canine influenza virus (CIV) type H3N8 emerged in Florida in 2004. Clinical signs of this highly contagious illness include coughing, sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge. Most dogs recovered, but some developed complications and required hospitalization. Since 2004, the virus has spread to 36 states. A vaccine was developed in 2009, and we began requiring it for our boarding and daycare guests.
In 2015, an outbreak of a new type of CIV, H3N2, occurred in the Chicago area. This influenza virus, originally from an avian source, has a higher mortality rate then the previous H3N8 strain. Since March, this new virus has been detected in 29 states. A vaccination for this strain has just received approval. The vaccine manufacturers are urging us to require vaccinations for both strains.
Our goal is to protect the health and welfare of all of our patients and guests. Rather than adopting the vaccine companies' recommendations, we have elected to follow a protocol more similar to the human model, and require only the vaccine for the strain that is currently of the most concern, which has been confirmed to be H3N2.
Dr. Reiff consulted with experts in the field - Dr. Melissa Kennedy, DVM, PhD, DACVM, Clinical Virologist at the University of Tennessee, and Colin Parrish, PhD, Professor of Virology at Cornell University's Baker Institute of Animal Health, who is actively studying this strain, before making this decision. Both experts confirmed that the H3N8 outbreaks are now small, infrequent and in isolated locations while H3N2 is spreading quickly and has been seen to cause more severe complications.
We are in a unique situation in Southwest Florida in that we have "SnowDogs" visiting us from many states this time of year, and therefor the potential for outbreak is high. Keep in mind that this is a "Lifestyle Vaccination" and is recommended only for dogs that come in contact socially with other dogs ; those that go to dog parks, dog beaches , groomers, boarding, daycare or dog social events. The virus is most contagious to other dogs before any symptoms are present and can be spread aerosolly, through direct contact or through contact with fomites (water bowls, combs, toys, hands, etc)
As of April 1, 2016, we will be requiring the H3N2 vaccination for all boarding and daycare guests. Like the first Influenza vaccine, it is a 2 part vaccination with boosters given 2-4 weeks apart, then yearly. For those guests current on their H3N8 the cost of the second booster will be included.
While it will no longer be required, we will continue to have the vaccination for the H3N8 available for dogs that wish to remain current, for dogs going to an area where a recent outbreak is documented or if there is a change in the epidemiology of this strain.
Your pet's health is of our utmost concern. We will continue to follow updates on this disease and adjust any protocols accordingly. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.