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Liz: What are you hearing about the dog flu?


Tommy Coyote
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I have seen 3 articles in the last 2 days saying that it is very contagious and is spreading like crazy - mainly in the Southern States. So far I think I have seen the Carolinas, Arkansas and Texas. One article said that 300 dogs have been reported as infected and it is going like wildfire at the dog shows.

 

Apparently there are 2 different varieties, one more serious than the other.

 

Do you have current info?

 

Here is one article: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/the-dog-flu-epidemic-the-real-truth/

 

Here is another one: http://www.whnt.com/2017/06/12/taking-action-veterinarian-warns-of-rapid-spread-of-dog-flu/

 

And: http://www.businessinsider.com/dog-flu-symptoms-spread-2017-6

 

 

This one seems to have the most information.

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There isn't much talk about it on the veterinary message boards right now. I've heard it's in northern IL and OK as well as several other states not officially listed. The biggest outbreak is supposed to be among show dogs. A lot were exposed at one show (can't remember which state but it was eastern), then the next weekend they went to shows in other areas and spread it.

 

We are having an outbreak of something in the KC area right now. Over the past few weeks I've seen at least a few cases a day of dogs coming in for coughing/sneezing and lethargy. Most had just been to the groomer, but I've also seen pups from 3 different breeding kennels in MO that were sick within a few days of purchase. Several of those pups were sold sick (coughing on the drive home with their new owners), which really makes me angry. I've not taken samples from any of those dogs to prove it's Bordetella (kennel cough) and not flu. I wasn't terribly worried since they seemed like standard cases, none were particularly worrying.

 

I did see a dog today with pneumonia. He was in rough shape and has been sick for several weeks. He has me concerned. You don't usually see such severe symptoms with Bordetella unless the dog is immune compromised or brachiocephalic. He is elderly, so that could be the reason, but still...

 

Aside from the puppies, all these dogs have been vaccinated for Bordetella. Now, the vaccine is NOT 100% effective, but I usually mostly see unprotected dogs getting clinical disease. That, combined with the one dog today with pneumonia, is making me question if this may be the flu. I would have loved a sample from the dog with pneumonia, but his head can't be touched even by the owner, so there was simply no way to get a good swab to send in for testing.

 

I experienced a very serious dog flu outbreak in 2008 (the original strain). All of my dogs got sick and coughed for a month. They ran high fevers, went off their food and had the most horrendous sounding hacking cough. You could tell they felt terrible. One of mine even developed pneumonia and took several months to recover. The virulence of that strain was mind boggling. Dogs with ZERO exposure to other dogs were getting sick because it was spreading through indirect contact (fomites). I am surprised the articles don't mention that outbreak, because it was pretty substantial. I think it was the first time dog flu had made it to New England.

 

Given that I have several trials and a dog centered vacation planned for the next month, I think I might just give my dogs the flu vaccine to be safe. It's not something I usually do, but in the face of an outbreak it could be a wise choice.

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I would not panic, but I also sure would not be taking my dog to a groomer right now. I will be curios to see how this develops, is it really a local kennel cough outbreak or has dog flu made it to the KC area?

 

PS, I saw a distemper case last week. Dog had not been vaccinated in 5.5 years. The holistic med types like to proclaim lifelong immunity from viral vaccines, but that has not been my experience in clinical practice.

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I have been doing shots every 3 years but I worry about distemper, too. The racoons carry it and we have racoons everywhere.

 

2 of my dogs have health problems so I don't want to vaccinate more often than necessary but I want them to be safe.

 

 

My vet really doesn't trust titer testing. They had a dog that tested ok for distemper and 2 weeks later he came in with distemper.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry, late to the topic, but thought I would chime in:

 

I have decided to vaccinate my 3 dogs with the bivalent flu vaccine. They all received their first vaccination a week ago. Second vaccination scheduled in 2 weeks. (3 weeks interval).

 

I did not do the CIV when the flu was an issue in the Midwest (in 2008? 2010?). My one dog was not out competing at large agility trials at that time, the main outbreak was about 500 miles away, and the symptoms didn't seem much worse than normal kennel cough (for most dogs, there are always the exceptions). This was the information I had at the time.

 

Now, the main outbreak is much closer. There were large conformation and agility shows in Perry, GA recently (4-6 weeks ago) which resulted in a large number of sick dogs. The new strain of flu seems to produce much more serious symptoms and seems to be more easily spread. Admittedly, some of this information is anecdotal. I was just speaking to my chiro vet today, and she has heard of quite a few dogs in NC and TN that died from the flu.

 

For me, the risk is higher than the previous outbreak - so I decided to have my dogs vaccinated and take advantage of the bivalent vaccine. (vs. the previous vaccine which only protected against one flu strain).

 

BTW, the vaccination cost $45 at my vet.

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