In response to the media attention to the canine influenza here is some information that might be helpful.

The influenza virus is spread by aerosol transmission of respiratory secretions via sneezing or coughing. The virus invades and kills the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract. Signs of infections typically develop within 2-5 days of virus exposure and are similar to those associated with a bad case of “Kennel Cough”. Lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge, low grade fever and a persistent dry nonproductive cough are common clinical manifestations of the illness.

Treatment and avoidance is supportive in nature and should include antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infections.

A vaccine for both influenza viruses, (H3N8 & H3N2) are available and have been conditionally licensed by the USDA. These vaccines are still undergoing efficacy trials. It is unknown whether the previous influenza which is specific for the H3N8 virus is effective against the new H3N2 strain.

Avoidance of exposure to potentially infected dogs is the best means of prevention at the present time. This means avoiding dog shows or kennels where dogs from regions of active disease may also be present. To our knowledge, the virus has yet to be identified in the greater Kansas City area.

Appropriate environmental hygiene and the immediate quarantine of patients with respiratory signs are imperative to controlling the spread of infection. Most disinfectants will kill the virus. The virus can survive only for a short time on external surfaces.

The influenza vaccinations are available at the Bonner Springs Animal Care Center. W are offering the vaccines at $25.00 a dose. Two doses are required to be effective. A booster is required 2-3 weeks after the initial vaccine. Please call and schedule an appointment if you are interested in your dog receiving the influenza vaccines.