UPDATED: Canine influenza cases in the Midwest and on the rise

Jack Russell Terrier playing with a yellow ball

Jack Russell Terrier playing with a ball//Photo from Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/1GPYCpn

At least 1,000 dogs in Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana have recently come down with canine influenza and the illness has been reported in Madison as well as the Chicago area. While not contagious to people, canine influenza can sometimes cause severe illness in man’s best friend, and less commonly, death.

The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (WVDL) provides testing for dogs suspected of harboring the canine influenza virus and the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) is equipped to treat dogs that come down with the illness. Both have issued recent advisories to alert people of the current outbreak of the virus.

Most dogs with canine influenza will develop symptoms like persistent cough, runny nose and fever. They cannot transmit the virus to people or other common house pets, such as cats, but they can pass it to other dogs. It can take several days after infection for a dog to show signs of illness, during which time the healthy-appearing dog can pass the virus to other dogs.

A vaccine is available that decreases the incidence and severity of canine influenza in 90% of dogs. The SVM recommends a vaccine given in two doses – an initial injection followed by a booster two weeks later – and confers protection four weeks after the first dose. The kennel cough vaccine is not effective against canine influenza. *** Please see updates below regarding a shortage of the canine influenza vaccine

More information about canine influenza can be found on the American Veterinary Medical Association and Centers for Disease Control websites, or by contacting your local veterinarian, the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab or the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

[Media inquiries should go to Nik Hawkins, director of communications and public relations at SVM or Pete Vanderloo at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab]

Update #2 4/10/15

The SVM received a late batch of vaccine shipments, available only to current primary care veterinary patients:

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Update #1 4/10/15:

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As a result of the current outbreak and vaccine shortage, the SVM is experiencing a high number of inquiries. Check http://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/canine-influenza-advisory/ for updates with regard to the availability of vaccine. Many clinics may also be facing a canine influenza vaccine shortage so those seeking it are advised to call around to see who may still have it.

Additionally, Dr. Ron Schultz, professor in the department of pathobiological sciences at the SVM, is available to take calls about infectious diseases in dogs and the use of vaccines.