(WINDSOR, ON) – Earlier this month, H3N2 canine influenza was identified in seven dogs in Windsor and Essex County. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit now confirms an additional dog has been found positive for canine influenza.
According to the Health Unit, canine influenza is, “highly contagious between dogs, particularly in areas [such as Canada] where dogs do not have natural immunity from previous infection and where canine influenza vaccination is rare.”
Although more cases are being reported, the Heath Unit’s experience shows that most dogs which develop influenza do not get seriously ill. The normal signal is respiratory signs similar to kennel cough. Owners of dogs with the flu are advised to isolate their pets for a minimum of four weeks or until the dog is no longer shedding the virus.
All other dogs and cats in the home must be isolated as well.
The Health Unit said it has followed up with all pet owners with ill dogs and alerted them to the recommended isolation procedures. Infected dogs are said to be able to shed the influenza virus for a short time prior to the onset of the disease, therefore animals appearing healthy are still a potential source of infection.
Common disinfectants can inactivate the virus, which can remain active for 24 hours. Pet owners should also increase their hand washing using soap and water. Canine influenza vaccines can reduce the risk of disease.
Residents with dogs showing signs of respiratory illness should call their veterinarian before visiting with other dogs. Canine flu can be treated on an outpatient basis to avoid further spread of illness. Although said to be rare, cats can also be infected with the virus.
Influenza in animals is a reportable disease. Pet owners in Windsor and Essex County should be vigilant. They should watch for signs of respiratory disease in their pets, particularly dogs that frequently have contact with other dogs.