As you may have heard in the media, there has been report of an influenza outbreak in the Southeastern U.S. in the last few weeks at large dog shows in Florida and Georgia. It is believed to be the H3N2 variety previously thought to originate in Asia. Our doctors were notified by a local specialty referral practice that there were 2 confirmed cases of influenza being treated in the Spring area and both of these cases were exposed to the Perry, GA outbreak. Furthermore, we also have had a confirmed case of H3N2 that presented to our hospital following a stay in a seperate boarding facility. Fortunately, our staff's acute awareness of the clinical signs of influenza allowed us to handle this patient as influenza suspect from the onset of presentation and was maintained with the strictest of isolation protocols. The pet was separated entirely from our hospitalized population and we are confident in the containment of the virus within our hospital.
We also want to bring awareness to our CFAH family so that you may avoid contact with any dogs exhibiting signs consistent with infectious respiratory disease including cough, fever, nasal discharge, etc. The virus is spread through air easily and many dogs do not have protection. Fortunately, the influenza virus is inactivated by most disinfectants, does not persist long in the environment (about 24 hours), and is likely affected by simple soap and water.
No human transmission has been reported from this flu virus. Rarely, cats have been affected by this virus which caused upper respiratory signs, but all cats recovered with supportive care.
Vaccination is available. The vaccine reduces the clinical signs if a dog gets infected, but does not prevent the flu virus from being able to infect the dog. This is a 2 injection series, given three weeks apart. Maximal protection does not occur until five weeks after administration. It is a preventative vaccine and not a treatment.
Because of the potential of spread within high risk populations (boarding facilities, dog parks, dog shows, etc) we are recommending the bivalent Canine Influenza Vaccine to offer protection against both H3N2 and H3N8 strains for dogs that frequent these high risk areas. We currently carry this vaccine. If you feel your pet is at risk, please contact us at 281-858-7700, request an appointment through your Pet Portal or email firstname.lastname@example.org.