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Deadly canine flu?


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Read article here.


Deadly canine flu spreads in U.S. pet shops, shelters


New York Times

Sept. 22, 2005 12:00 AM


A new, highly contagious and sometimes deadly canine flu is spreading in kennels and dog tracks around the country, veterinarians said Wednesday.


The virus, which scientists say mutated from an influenza strain that affects horses, has killed racing greyhounds in seven states and has been found in shelters and pet shops in many places. Dr. Cynda Crawford, an immunologist at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine who is studying the virus, said it spreads most easily where dogs are housed together, but it can also be passed on the street, in dog runs or even by a human transferring it from one dog to another.


Experts said there are no known cases of the canine flu infecting humans. Dr. Ruben Donis, chief of molecular genetics for the influenza branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a vaccine would be relatively easy to develop.

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I'm interested in hearing more as well, as Beck would go crazy if we couldn't go to the dog park. As for the vaccine that would be "relatively easy to develop"...are they going to do this or just talk about it?


Just saw a news brief...this is airborne, spreads very easily, and resembles kennel cough. If your dog is choking/coughing, take it to the vet. (Unfortunately, it's here in Arizona.) :rolleyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

This was posted to a list I am on. It seems to be the clearest and most sensible approach to coping with Canine Flu.

Chris O

Posted with permission:





I started a board for topics and information on the Canine Flu. On

there is the thread about the experience we went through with our

first cases something with the exact symptoms and attributes of Canine

Flu, when we thought that we were seeing Psudomonas. The Psudomonas

was vet diagnosed based on symptoms, not a lung flush - and the only

symptoms that were consistent with the theory of Psudomonas were the

green mucus and fever.




Our experiences on what we strongly suspect is canine flu is simple

and nothing to panic over. Before I read a detailed break down of what

symptoms the flu caries, I was referring to our mystery disease as

"shelter gunk" or "shelter funk". The first group of dogs that we

received with this were mostly Pit Bull types. They had fevers, green

and yellow mucus, swollen glands, a backwards snort type of cough (not

the typical 'fog horn' cough that I think of when I am dealing with

bordatella), and were lethargic. Having not seen this before, and

having taken several dogs from the same shelter that had "kennel

cough", we pulled them and put them into fosters, all of which were

ready to handle kennel cough.


The group of dogs that we suspect brought this into the shelter was a

neglect/abuse case involving Pit Bulls assumably bred to be used for

dog fighting. Since this first group, the shelter has been responsibly

treating each dog that comes in, warning adopters, and cleaning and

rotating to do their best to contain and rid the shelter of this

disease. Each time they get it all clear, a few days later a dog will

start with the runny nose, and it will all happen again.


Anyway, we knew shortly after pulling the dogs that it was not just

"bad kennel cough this year". They were not coughing so much as they

were hacking and gurgling. They were lethargic and seemed to be very

sore, glands were swollen, they had fevers, and a few developed

conjunctivitis and ear infections within a few days of coming out of

the shelter. We quarantined as best as we are able, as none of us have

facilities but rather face limitations since the dogs are in our

homes. Bleach, bleach, bleach. A vet did a long exam with one of the

dogs, and his diagnosis was Psudomonas lung infection, and bacterial

symptoms like that of a flu :-


On that assumption, we got everyone on antibiotics. The antibiotics

REALLY help, probably because a lot of what we were/are seeing is

secondary infections. Some of the dogs have developed full blown

psnumonia prior to treatment - a few going from no symptoms to needing

hospitalized for psnumonia.


I put our dogs in the home on a very mild dose of terrmycine after

they were exposed. We bleached everything, and did not let dogs share

toys, food bowls, etc. Dogs had their crate, and did not use another

dog's crate; crates were bleached daily. Dogs that showed symptoms

were kept separate from those that did not - and it was manageable,

clean, and easy. The shelter has done basically the same thing.


Dogs that showed symptoms were put on terrmycine and cephelexin. Some

bounced back right away. We would do immune support (similar to what

we do with dog recovering from Parvo), and sub-qu fluids were given if

needed. If the dog continued to go down hill, we stayed steady with

our support and treated with ciphroflexin antibiotic. All but two of

the dogs responded to the antibiotics, care, and time. Out of over 20,

we have lost two (euthanized once it was obvious that treatment was

not going to help and that the dogs were in serious pain); both were

not healthy before showing flu-like symptoms, one was 5 weeks old when

she came into the shelter (as a neglect/abuse case). The other dogs

responded well and are now just fine.


One complication to this is that dogs pulled from the shelter

sometimes did not show signs for up to 10 days. That is where I

developed my name "shelter crash", as it seemed that they would get

pulled from the shelter and then just sort of "crash".


Nearly all of the dogs we have pulled have come down with this. The

scary thing is, our foster homes and adopters have brought the dogs

into various vets, and have said "kennel cough", and the vets tell

them not to treat the dogs. What we are seeing is NOT normal kennel

cough, and treatment right away has had the best results. The shelter

has been putting all of the dogs on antibiotics the second they show

any symptoms, and they are having a great recovery with them. Maybe we

are just preventing secondary infections, but either way, it is helping.


The hardest thing so far has been that some of the dogs have not shown

any symptoms until days after they were taken from the shelter


At this point we are now holding dogs for 14 days before adoption (not

usually a challenge - adoption have been slower recently), no matter

what the circumstances. I have been alerting people going to the

shelter via our referral, so that they will know what to tell their

vet if the dog they bring home starts to show symptoms later. I have

been contacting all of our fosters and volunteers and getting on the

same page; this was before "dog flu" was part of my vocabulary, but

now that there are necropsy-confirmed cases in Portland, and one of

the dogs from this shelter was necropsy tested for Psudomonas and it

came out negative, I see it reasonably to suspect that we are seeing

Canine Flu. We have transported many dogs to foster homes in

Washington, as well - and a few into British Columbia.


This is nothing to panic over, at least in my experience with it (if

that is what we are experiencing). Our resident dogs have remained

healthy, even though exposure, and it does not seem to spread as

easily as Parvo. I suspect that with stressed dogs and a shelter

environment (or seniors dogs, young puppies, and dogs with some sort

of predisposition to be hit harder), it is more of a concern. In home,

however, extra responsibility and being on the ball has made it no

panic at all. Manageable and scary - but much better now that we have

seen it over and over, and can warn people about it so that they are

not having dogs crash once home and not knowing that vetting is

important (one dog was adopted from the shelter and nearly died of

psnumonia - never had symptoms other than serious lethargy and a runny

nose with clear mucus).


Not really sure where I am going with all of this other than sharing

my experience, and letting people know that if they are getting dogs

that have kennel-cough like symptoms to not assume that the dog will

get over it on its own. Please get the dogs checked by a vet, and

request that the vet check the dog completely instead of just giving

cephelexin as a infection-prevention (this is pretty common with

"normal" kennel cough).


Please feel free to e-mail me any questions, and I can share our

experiences and what little that we know because of them. Please keep

me updated if you come across any additional information about the

Canine Flu, especially locally (Oregon/Washington/etc).



Stephanie Wolfe

Animal Rescue Cooperation

(541) 302-5886




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There was an interview with a FLA vet who was part of the team responsible for identifying the flu (which jumped from horses to dogs) on Science Friday (NPR) last week. She didn't seem to think that it was that big a problem for most dogs (i.e., it is similar to the flu in humans - some people get very sick but most don't). In the interview she specifically addressed peoples' concerns about dog parks, etc. Rather than trying to synopse everything she said, I'd suggest listening to the episode .


More info can be found at: http://www.ghi.com/yourhealth/articles/110468.html



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Read this from the CDC: Media Briefing on Canine Influenza


Dr. Cynda Crawford from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine: I'll also stress that despite the rumors that are out on the Internet and other such sources, this disease is not as deadly as people want to make it. Although it's a new pathogen in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection based on our knowledge about the virus to date, about 80 percent of them will have a mild form of disease, just characterized by cough and maybe some nasal discharge that will resolve over time with appropriate therapy.


Only a minority of dogs, a small number of dogs, experience complications such as pneumonia, just like the humans infected with influenza, certain populations of humans are more prone to development of pneumonia. And it's a small number of humans compared to everyone else.


So that is the same with canine influenza virus. It's a small population of dogs that will develop complications, most likely bacterial complications and these dogs do need to be--have their treatment supervised by a veterinarian.


In addition, since not all dogs will show a clinical syndrome, showing that they have a respiratory infection, there is a minority that are infected with the virus, but will not show clinical signs to announce to everybody that ?I am sick.? And it is very difficult to find these dogs in the dog population. And we're working on a more rapid means of identification.


And lastly, I want to emphasize most of all that this is not the deadly virus that certain sources have played it up to be.


We have a very low mortality rate. And this is a disease that I would characterize as one of high morbidity and low mortality. Thank you

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If you're interested, the vet cited in the CDC report is the same one who was interviewed on Science Friday.


Another point made in the interview/articles is that some affected dogs have only mild clinical symptoms, are misdiagnosed, have owners that don't take their pets to a vet or some other reason that prevents them from being identified as "affected." It is thought, therefore, that the actual incidence of serious problems/death from this flu is probably lower than reported.



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I wish I had a subscription to Science so I could read their published work not the media interpretation of their work. It sounds to me like the media is trying to create news.


From the descriptions the authors have made of this virus it's just like human flu except no dogs have immunity to it. Therefore, be watchful of the weak (immune compromised, old and young) and treat for secondary bacterial infections.



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You can read the interview or heear it on the net at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4930930" target="_blank">web page

It isn't as bad as it seems at first blush.

andrea d

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Yep, more media hype than real killer disease. That's not to say that you shouldn't be concerned if your dog develops symptoms, and certainly if your vet dismisses it as kennel cough you may want to insist that s/he reconsider or get a second opinion, but I don't think dog flu is going to be the kind of killer that distemper or parvo are.



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A dog on my flyball team was diagnosed with kennel cough a little over a week ago. He was put on antibiotics as if it was kennel cough and was told to quarantine him for 3 weeks. The dog started acting normal again within 2 days of medicine. There is a chance he had a mild form of the flu but her vet said he would be given the same antibiotics for the flu as for kennel cough. So as long as dogs are treated in a timely manner, most dogs will heal up quickly. It helps when the owner is very diligent.

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