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Canine Influenza Virus - An Emerging Threat to Our Community

Dear members of the Animal Medical Center Family:

Our team at Animal Medical Center  strives to provide the highest quality care for your beloved furry family members.   That being said, we feel that it is our job to keep you informed about emerging health concerns regarding your pets.  The Canine Influenza virus has been definitively identified in affected dogs in Monroe, LA as well as in Baton Rouge, LA.  

Canine Influenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory virus, not unlike the human flu.  It causes clinical signs of coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever.  Most affected dogs develop the mild form of the virus, which will cause a cough that persists for up to 21 days.  A small percentage (<10%) of dogs will develop the severe form of the virus, which can cause severe pneumonia, high grade fever, and increased respiratory rate and effort.

Like most upper respiratory viruses, Canine Influenza is spread in many ways:   aerosolized respiratory secretions (coughing, barking, sneezing), direct contact with infected animals, contact with contaminated surfaces (food bowls, collars, leashes, bedding), and contact with people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.  The virus is quite hardy, living on surfaces for up to 48 hours (if not disinfected), clothing for 24 hours, and hands for 12 hours.  Pets who are at highest risk are those that visit dog shows, boarding facilities, dog parks, and grooming facilities.

Due to the ease of transmission, Animal Medical Center veterinarians will examine  all dogs with the above mentioned clinical signs outside of the clinic.  If your dog is sick and exhibiting any respiratory signs, please call and inform the staff of your dog’s condition and set up an appointment.  A veterinarian and a technician will come to your vehicle in order to examine and treat your pet.  Please DO NOT ENTER the building and put other patients at risk!  Please call us from the parking lot when you arrive, and we will meet you outside.  We realize that this is not the most comfortable situation, but we feel that it is necessary in order to decrease transmission of the virus.  We stand by our commitment to you and your pet; therefore, we will ensure that your dog is properly examined and  treated!

Animal Medical Center has currently stocked the bivalent vaccine, which is designed to protect against the H3N8 and H3N2 strains of Canine Influenza.  The goal of the vaccine is to decrease the severity of clinical signs if your pet was to come in contact with the virus.  This vaccine does require a booster 2 -4  weeks after the first vaccine.  High levels of immunity are not reached until 1 week after the SECOND vaccine.  

Sincerely,

The Animal Medical Center Veterinarians and Staff

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