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Montana pet owners warned about dog flu, vaccine available

Posted at 9:10 AM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 11:22:52-05

HELENA – Veterinary professionals are cautioning pet owners about Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) and recommend that certain dogs should be vaccinated.

CIV is similar to the type of influenza that affects people, but CIV cannot be transmitted to humans. The disease is highly contagious and can be spread through airborne interactions.

Dr. Heidi Wampler of Alpine Animal Clinic said that while there are some shared symptoms of a cold, a dog having CIV won’t be active or playful.

“Dogs can get very severe fever, they’re very lethargic–these are very sick dogs,” said Dr. Heidi Wampler of Alpine Animal Clinic.  Other symptoms include a thick mucus discharge, runny eyes and difficulty breathing.

CIV is a relatively new disease first being reported in the United States around 2004 and there are currently two strains of the virus found in the US — H3N8 and H3N2.

H3N8 was first found in Florida and is believed to have originated in horses. H3N2 is believed have come from birds and originated in Asia. H3N2 is also responsible for the 2016 outbreak of CIV and can be transmitted to cats.

Helena had a confirmed case of Dog Flu in 2016 and both strains of the virus have been reported in Montana to date.

If an animal goes untreated, especially an elderly one, CIV can be potentially fatal. A vaccine has been developed and is currently available for CIV.

“Now we have a vaccine that has been proven to be efficacious,” noted Wampler. “The previous vaccine was only effective for a few months but this new vaccine has been proven to be effective for a full year.”

Wampler recommends any dog that travels or has a high rate of interacting with other animals be vaccinated.

“Those dogs that do agility, breeding, hunting– those sorts of patients really should have a vaccine,” said Wampler.

If your animal is showing the symptoms of Influenza it is recommended to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

-John Riley reporting for MTN News