There appear to have been several cases of Canine influenza Virus here in Asheville, and today (July 14) we received an announcement from Merck, one of our vaccine suppliers that at least one Asheville case has been confirmed as the H3N2 strain. We have seen several cases of coughing dogs at Haw Creek Animal Hospital and have heard reports of boarding facilities closing during this potential outbreak.
The Canine Influenza Virus vaccine that is available was generated using a different strain of CIV (H3N8). While cross protection has not been rigorously determined (a process that will take some months), from their experience in Chicago, Atlanta, and elsewhere Merck has issued an assurance that the vaccine does provide some protection against H3N2: dogs that have been vaccinated with the H2N8 vaccine and been subsequently challenged with H3N2 virus have not broken with the disease. The manufacturer also has anecdotal evidence that the vaccine lessens symptoms of the infection and can also reduce the amount of virus shed by an infected individual. Their confidence is such that they have updated their guarantee for that product to include H3N2; we take this to mean that if a correctly vaccinated dog breaks with symptoms they will cover the costs of subsequent treatment.
We currently have this vaccine in stock at both locations, and we will endeavor to keep it in stock until or unless the supply runs out. The vaccine protocol requires an office visit for the first injection and then a booster 4 weeks later. Protection is good for one year.
While it may change as the situation develops, we are trying to keep Meridian Animal Hospital a "CIV-free" hospital and are encouraging clients with potential CIV cases to visit us at Haw Creek Animal Hospital. If you are interested in vaccination, or have a dog with any respiratory symptoms, please call us.
As with the human "flu season" limiting unnecessary exposure is probably a good defense and local media are recommending people keep dogs away from day care and dog parks. As with human flu, these are recommendations that should probably be taken more seriously with very young, old, or otherwise sick or compromised animals.
As, or if, we learn more we will update this page. In the meantime, here are some links that might be of interest:
Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
Canine Influenza Website (Merck)
American Veterinary Medical Association CIV page