Officials urge precaution as dog flu outbreak hits Chicago

Sat. April 4, 2015 9:07 AM

Chicago, IL - The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association recommends dog owners take immediate, precautionary measures to prevent their dogs from exposure to Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) following an outbreak in Chicago.

"Avoidance of exposure is the name of game for now," said Dr. Brendan McKiernan, Director of the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana.

Due to the high risk of canine influenza virus spreading from dog to dog, pet owners should not allow their dogs to either socialize with other dogs or participate in any group dog training activities. Pet owners are advised to not board their dogs at kennels and to avoid doggie day care, dog parks, and grooming facilities at this time.

Pet owners should contact their veterinarian immediately if they see any of the following symptoms in their dog(s): persistent, hacking cough, lethargic behavior, a poor appetite, nasal discharge, trouble breathing, or a fever. Testing for canine influenza is available, and best results are obtained from samples taken very early in the onset of the illness. Sick dogs should be isolated from other animals.

In addition to the canine influenza virus being transmitted directly from dog to dog, the virus can live on hard surfaces and fabric materials making these items contaminated as well. To help minimize the spread of disease, it is also crucial that everyone should observe basic sanitation protocols, such as washing hands after touching animals or handling any items like food bowls, water bowls, toys, crates, and cages. These items should also be thoroughly cleaned. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "The canine influenza virus appears to be easily killed by disinfectants in common use in veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and animal shelters."

Vaccines are available for some of the causative agents responsible for Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD). The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association recommends that pet owners speak with their veterinarian about available vaccinations based upon lifestyle and risk exposure of their pets.

From a press release