Approximately one week ago Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital provided you with an important health alert regarding Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), highlighting a recent outbreak in Texas. This outbreak was reported to "spread like wildfire" and reminded us that CIV is considered endemic in New Jersey and surrounding states. Our Health Alert could not have been timelier as we have just received our first report of a CIV outbreak in Bergen County. Fortunately, many RVH clients have already scheduled vaccinations for their dogs against this highly contagious disease.
Yesterday, October 4, 2011, we received a notice that the Bergen County Animal Shelter is experiencing a higher than normal rate of dogs showing signs of upper respiratory tract infection and they have identified Canine Influenza as one of the causes. As a very responsible act, the shelter administration has suspended all adoptions and they expect this policy to remain in effect until the middle of October, highlighting the extremely contagious nature of this disease. As a further precaution, owing to the fact that the virus can be carried on clothing, the shelter advises that people who own dogs or come in contact with dogs not even visit the shelter. We applaud the administration of the Bergen County Animal Shelter for sharing this information with the veterinary community and for taking these appropriate actions.
It is important to recognize that essentially 100% of unvaccinated dogs exposed to CIV will become infected. Eighty percent will display mild respiratory signs, but 20 % will experience significant pneumonia that may require hospitalization, and 5-8% may die. While there is no reason to over react to this disease, prevention is always the safest and least expensive way to avoid expensive medical treatments.
Recognizing that the only remaining barrier to vaccinating dogs would be cost, especially in these troubling economic times, Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital is committed to offering your pets the best protection possible even in these difficult financial times. Accordingly, the hospital will schedule Canine Influenza Vaccine Clinics to vaccinate as many dogs as possible as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost to you.
During these special, limited clinics, the vaccine will be administered for the vaccine fee of $25.00 each without the customary clinic visit fee of $44.88. Dogs not previously vaccinated will require a booster vaccine two weeks later. In order to provide this service at this cost the vaccine clinics can only be scheduled during our "quiet" times and no other services will be available. Naturally if your pet needs help with other problems we will arrange another time to get these needs taken care of. This discount will be available only during designated vaccine clinics.
In order to protect your pet it is important that you schedule a vaccination as soon as possible so that the immune system will have enough time to provide protection before a potential exposure occurs.
Make sure to tell the customer care representative that you want to schedule for the Canine Influenza Clinic in order to take advantage of the special reduced vaccine fee.
Dog flu found in San Antonio
20 confirmed cases seen in past month; vaccine available.
Twenty confirmed cases of canine influenza and 70 suspected cases have been recorded in San Antonio dogs within the past 30 days, according to a local veterinarian.
The disease, also known as dog flu, has also been reported in Austin and Dallas, said Dr. Michele Wright, who helped identify the virus at a local clinic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas is one of 38 states where dogs have been exposed to the H3N8 virus.
The first San Antonio case originated with two dogs that stopped at dog day care centers and parks, both community sites where dogs could have contracted the disease, Wright said.
Symptoms include a fever, runny nose and coughing, but some dogs infected with the virus do not show symptoms. The virus is not transmitted to humans, cats or other species. Wright said dogs shed, or transmit, the virus through secretions that expose it to the environment.
"What's scary for me as a veterinarian is they can act and look healthy and still be shedding the virus," Wright said.
Two tests can confirm the virus. The vaccine is available at veterinarian offices.
According to the CDC, the virus was first detected in 2004 in greyhounds. Scientists believe it jumped species from horses to dogs and adapted to cause sickness and spread among dogs.
Wright said because many local dogs haven't been vaccinated, close to 100 percent would get the virus if exposed. Twenty percent would transmit it but not appear sick. Seventy-two percent would show mild symptoms of coughing that could linger for two to three weeks. And 8 percent could develop pneumonia that could be life threatening.
Animal Care Services director Gary Hendel said ACS has not confirmed any cases of canine influenza in the shelter.
"It's a situation that bears watching," Hendel said. "Should that situation change, we will work with our local veterinary community to identify solutions to prevent widespread outbreak."
Wright suggested that pet owners vaccinate their dogs; limit visits to communal areas to prevent exposure; and keep dogs away from contaminated areas for a month after immunization, to build up immunity.
"I think if we can get people vaccinating, we'll be able to contain the virus," Wright said. "The hard thing is getting people to vaccinate in areas that haven't seen it yet."
- Is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus known as canine influenza virus.
- It is not a human influenza virus, and people cannot get it.
- Can be spread to other dogs by direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by contact with contaminated objects and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.
- Nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection, but most will have a mild form of the disease.
- Symptoms are cough, runny nose and fever; a small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease, characterized by the onset of pneumonia.
- Testing to confirm flu virus infection is done at veterinary centers. An approved vaccine is available.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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