FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 1, 2018 | 10:00 a.m. | Windsor and Essex County
Earlier this month, H3N2 canine influenza was identified in seven dogs in Windsor and Essex County. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) has confirmed that one additional dog is now positive for canine influenza. Canine influenza virus is of public concern because it 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.
A few important points should be noted:
- Most dogs that develop influenza do not get seriously ill. Dogs will have respiratory signs similar to “kennel cough”.
- Dogs with the canine flu are extremely contagious. Dog owners will be directed to isolate their dogs for a minimum of 4 weeks or until the dog is no longer shedding the virus. All other dogs and cats in the home must be isolated as well.
- Health unit representatives have followed up with all affected pet owners about isolation procedures. Infected dogs can shed influenza virus for a short time prior to the onset of the disease. Therefore, animals that appear to be healthy are still a potential source of infection.
- Increased environmental cleaning should be conducted as the virus can survive in the environment for 12- 24 hours. Common disinfectants can inactivate the virus along with increased hand washing with soap and water from pet owners.
- Canine influenza vaccines can reduce the risk of disease. Please talk to your veterinarians about the vaccine.
- If your dog is showing signs of respiratory illness call your veterinarian before visiting with other dogs. Canine flu can be treated on an outpatient basis to avoid further spread of illness.
- Cats can be infected but this appears to be rare.
Influenza in animals is a reportable disease. As noted previously, the investigation and response are ongoing. Owners of affected and exposed pets have been notified and told to keep all animals away from other dogs and cats until cleared by the WECHU to prevent further spread of the virus. Pet owners in Windsor and Essex County should be vigilant and watch for signs of respiratory disease in their pets, particularly dogs that frequently have contact with other dogs.
Canine influenza virus (as well as other infectious causes of respiratory disease) is highly contagious; care must be taken with sick dogs.
Dogs with signs of respiratory illness (cough, decreased appetite, nasal and eye discharge, and fever) should be kept away from others dogs/cats for at least 4 weeks and/or until cleared by your veterinarian.
If a dog with signs of respiratory illness is taken to a veterinarian, the veterinary clinic should be informed in advance so that they can take appropriate precautions.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
519-258-2146 ext. 6397 (news)