Canine Influenza in NYC after Super Storm Sandy
I just received the following information, provided by a veterinary clinic in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, via an in-state poodle breeder. I thought it worthwhile to share.
We have seen a documented case of canine influenza this past week. This
patient was a rescue from New York City after the hurricane.
Canine influenza looks very much like 'kennel cough,' but can rapidly
progress to pneumonia. It has high morbidity (very high infection rate) in
closed populations, but low mortality (not often fatal) if adequately
Thankfully, the dog is doing well and had been ill long enough on arrival
at our clinic that she was no longer shedding virus. She was not
hospitalized, and recognizing her as a possible influenza patient we took
all quarantine and disinfection precautions anyways.
Dr. Dubovi, the director of the Cornell Diagnostic Lab, called us himself
with the titer result of 512 on this patient, and he kindly spent a lot of
time discussing our concerns. There is certainly no reason for panic.
First, dogs with canine influenza do not carry much viral "load." They
cannot spread the disease very easily by aerosol. Dr. Dubovi gave the
example of two dogs passing each other on a sidewalk being unlikely to
spread the virus. The virus is very efficiently spread, however, by
contact. That is how it becomes endemic, or firmly rooted, in shelters and
kennels. It survives for a long time with moisture, but dies quickly in dry
conditions and is easily killed by most disinfectants.
Our concerns in contacting you all are threefold.
First, we want to make sure you know that New York City, Brooklyn in
particular, is a "hotbed" for the virus, to use Dr. Dubovi's term. Denver,
Colorado is the other area of our country where the disease is rampant.
Anyone taking their dogs to these areas should consider getting the canine
influenza vaccine. This is of concern with the Westminster show coming up
Second, we want to ask those with brachycephalic (short-muzzled) breeds
such as Bulldogs and Bostons to consider vaccinating, as the consequences of
pneumonia are particularly severe for these patients.
Finally, we would like to ask you to spread this information to your
kennel clubs, breed groups and friends. We want people to understand the
risks inherent in rescuing dogs from NYC shelters at this time, as happened
in the case of our patient. We are lucky that the disease is not endemic,
or rooted, in our area...and we don't want it to become established in any
of your kennels. We are working hard to avoid over-vaccinating our
patients, and we do not believe that widespread vaccination for canine
influenza is warranted at this time. However, Dr. Dubovi did suggest that
it would be a good precaution for those likely to contact dogs from endemic
areas in their travels.
Please feel free to call if you have any questions!
Stephanie Todd, Keith Payton, and the doctors and staff at Harmony