Canine Flu outbreak precautions recommended by Orange County Animal Services

, Canine Flu outbreak precautions recommended by Orange County Animal Services, The Local Reporter
canine flu precautions

COMMUNITY

By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

It is time to take canine influenza precautions seriously if you live in Orange County. An outbreak of the canine flu in the Wake County Animal Center, resulting in the deaths of two dogs, could be rearing its ugly head in our area in the near future. Wake County Animal Center closed for 35 days to help contain the Oct. 6 outbreak and it is not accepting animals at this time to prevent new cases and protect their current population.

“We have not had any cases in our shelter, but we are stopping the intake of new animals and isolating any dog that may be exhibiting symptoms,” said Tenille Fox, media specialist for Orange County Animal Services.

“We have a managed admissions process in general. Currently, animal intake services are provided by appointment and are limited to Orange County, NC residents. We are scheduling owner surrenders out by a few weeks, taking in fewer dogs in the coming weeks. That way, we can lessen the likelihood of canine influenza entering our shelter, until we get a better idea of how things look in our community regarding the spread of this virus,” said Fox.

Unfortunately, prevention is the only recourse, as the canine flu vaccine has been back ordered for over a year and a half. Macayala Matuvo, a vet technician at Hope Crossing Animal Hospital in Pittsboro, North Carolina, is unaware of any veterinarians who have obtained the shot. “There has been a shortage and we have not been able to provide the vaccine for over a year,” said Matuvo.

The shortage has been caused by supply chain issues, with no public It has been caused by supply chain issues, with no public information about when it could be resolved. “The Bordetella shot that most dogs get provides some protection since it is a respiratory infection, but it is not a flu shot,” said Matuvo.

Merck manufactures one of the first licensed canine flu vaccines – Nobivac – to protect your puppy or dog from canine influenza strains H3N8 and H3N2. According to their website, canine flu spreads through direct contact, indirect (coughing or sneezing) and contaminated surfaces such as food and water bowls, cages or human contact. They did not specify a reason for the shortage.

A map provided by dogflu.com reveals that the problem of canine flu cases are nationwide.

Orange County Animal Services recommends additional prevention and awareness measures against the spread of canine influenza, which is now circulating in North Carolina. Canine influenza is a virus that can cause a low-grade fever, coughing, nasal discharge, sluggish behavior and decreased appetite in dogs, according to a press release on Tuesday.

“Canine influenza is continuing to circulate in North Carolina, including areas near our shelter,” said Dr. Sandra Strong, Orange County Animal Services Director. “We are taking precautions at our facility and it’s important that we remind dog owners about the symptoms of the virus and the protective measures they can take to help ensure their dogs remain healthy,” she wrote in the press release.

Orange County Animal Services explained, “Canine influenza is similar to other respiratory diseases, and testing by a veterinarian is needed to confirm infection. The virus can shed for up to three days before clinical signs appear. Generally, older dogs, younger dogs and dogs with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to the flu. It is recommended that, if your dog will be coming in contact with other dogs and/or will be boarding, you discuss preventative measures and any helpful vaccinations with your veterinarian.”

Orange County Animal Services tips for keeping pets safe include:

Make sure your pet follows a recommended vaccine schedule.

Do not take sick pets to dog parks or other places where dogs mingle if they have clinical signs such as a cough, and keep your dog at home for three weeks after recovery from illness.

Ensure your pet has current ID tags with your address and phone number clearly displayed. (This will ensure that your pet can be returned promptly to you in the event of an escape, and may prevent disease exposure.)

Keep your pet healthy overall; a strong immune system is the best defense against infection.

“You need to be cautious when your dog mingles with dogs you are not familiar with. Places like dog parks, boarding kennels, and doggy daycares are at higher risk for spreading the flu,” said Fox.

If you think your dog may have the flu:

Call your veterinarian BEFORE going to their office and let them know your dog’s symptoms. This will allow them to determine how to minimize exposure within their practice and prepare for your dog’s arrival.

Keep your dog away from other dogs and public areas until your dog is seen by your veterinarian.

Canine influenza is typically a treatable disease with a low fatality rate but high rate of infection for dogs. It will make many dogs sick, but most will recover. For more information about canine influenza, please visit the following websites:

UC Davis – Koret Shelter Medicine Program – https://www.sheltermedicine.com/library/resources/?r=canine-influenza
North Carolina Department of Agriculture – Animal Welfare Section – http://www.ncagr.gov/vet/aws/canineflu/index.htm


Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 

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