VSC’s Canine Influenza Protocol
There has been a lot of media attention about the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV or H3N8) outbreak in the Chicago area in recent weeks. To date, the majority of the cases have been in Chicago. However, ERs in Chicago have stopped accepting new patients and many patients are now being referred to VSC. More suburban cases are also being reported by primary veterinarians in our referral community.
With the increased attention on the dog flu, we have been fielding calls from clients who have questions about the outbreak and have been concerned about bringing their pets in for appointments at Veterinary Specialty Center. Because VSC is home to an emergency room and a variety of specialty practices, we have always had strict protocols in place to prevent the spread of disease. Since many of our patients are immune compromised, we have always gone to great lengths to protect them from contagious illnesses. Since the CIV outbreak, we have adopted additional protocols to protect our patients.
Here are some of the additional steps we’ve taken
- We are asking any client that has a dog with respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or nasal discharge, to leave their dog in the car. We will come to your vehicle to triage and have you wait until our isolation examination room is available.
- We have designated specific exam rooms for these cases. Our front desk is taking immediate action to make sure that coughing dogs don’t remain in our waiting room.
- If clients want to minimize risk to their dogs and are more comfortable waiting in their car until a room becomes available, we are happy to accommodate them.
- Our kennel staff is watching for any indications that pets currently in our care may be developing a cough or other symptoms.
- We have assigned specific technicians on each shift for our isolation cases.
- Doctors and technicians working with suspected respiratory cases are gowning and wearing protective booties and clothing that are discarded after working with our isolation cases.
What you should know about CIV or the dog flu
- Just like the human flu virus, the dog flu is an airborne virus that is spread by coughing and sneezing via aerosolized respiratory secretions. The virus may spread through contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, etc.) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. It is not spread via urine or feces.
- The virus can remain alive and able to infect on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. It is easily killed by commonly used disinfectants–bleach, ammonia, even ordinary hand soap.
- Dogs are infected with the virus for 2-4 days before the start of symptoms. They are actually the most contagious during this time, before they are exhibiting signs of illness. Contagiousness decreases dramatically during the first 4 days of illness but may continue up to 7 days in most dogs and, rarely, up to 10 days in a few dogs.
- It is highly contagious from dog to dog but rarely fatal.
- Fever (usually low grade), cough, nasal discharge, sneezing, ocular discharge, lethargy and anorexia.
- More severely affected dogs can exhibit a high fever with an increased respiratory rate and other signs of pneumonia or bronchopneumonia (usually from secondary bacterial or mycoplasmal infections).
- To protect your dog from the dog flu, keep your dog away from high-risk areas that include dog parks, kennels, doggy day care, grooming, training facilities and pet stores. Avoid popular walking areas for dogs as well.
Talk to your primary veterinarian about the vaccine and if the vaccine is a viable option for your dog or dogs. If you have additional questions, call your veterinarian or call us at our Buffalo Grove location at (847) 459-7535 or Chicago location at (312) 226-3641.