Winter 2010 Newsletter

Animal Medical Updates

Canine Influenza Vaccine Approved

"Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection that has a significant impact on dogs housed together or where there is a high turnover of dogs in the facility. Dogs in shelters, kennels boarding and training facilities, day care centers, veterinary clinics, pet stores and grooming parlors are at the highest risk for the exposure to the virus. Dogs that mostly stay home or walk in the neighborhood are at low risk" said Dr. Cynda Crawford, D.V.M., PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Canine influenza is a specific disease caused by a novel influenza virus first discovered in 2004. The term 'dog flu' refers to any flu-like illness in dogs due to various causes. This is a particular subtype, H3N8, of the influenza A virus," Dr. Crawford said.

There is no evidence that canine influenza infects people, cats or birds or that it can be transmitted to other animals by exposure to dogs with the disease.

In May 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved for licensure the first influenza vaccine for dogs. This vaccine was developed by Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health Corporation.

The vaccine may not prevent infection but it definitely lessens the severity and duration of the infection. The canine influenza vaccine is a "lifestyle" vaccine because it is intended for dogs at risk for exposure to the canine influenza virus (CIV). Canine influenza is highly contagious. Almost 80% of dogs exposed to it develop flu-like symptoms. Most dogs recover in 7-10 days. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with infected dogs and by aerosols generated by coughing and sneezing. The virus can contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who work with infected dogs. The virus can be inactivated by washing hands and clothing in soap and water.

Dog owners should consult their veterinarian to determine whether their dog is at risk of exposure to CIV.

Stop Using VETSULIN on Diabetic Pets
Contact Your Veterinarian

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine and Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health issued an alert for veterinarians and pet owners about Vetsulin. A problem has occurred with the stability of this insulin product which could be dangerous for your pet. It can create unpredictable fluctuations in glucose levels in diabetic patients. Vetsulin is the most common insulin product used for diabetic dogs and cats. The FDA is encouraging veterinarians to report any adverse effects with this drug.

Cat Gets Swine Flu from Owners

A 13-year-old, orange tabby cat in Ames, Iowa contracted the H1N1 virus from a human member of its family. Researchers and health experts were surprised because this is the first time they've seen human flu passed to a cat. But, as of now, there is no evidence that cats can pass the disease to humans. The cat has recovered.

Two ferrets in Oregon and Nebraska also were reported contracting H1N1 but they died. Ferrets are susceptible to contracting influenza from humans. If you have pet ferrets be sure to wash your hands before playing with them if you are ill.

Two more cats, one in Utah and one in Oregon, also have contracted the H1N1 virus from human family members. The cat in Utah recovered but the one in Oregon died from the disease.

There are no known cases of dogs contracting swine flu. They seem to be immune from the disease.

Usually if a cat has a runny nose or is sneezing it is a upper respiratory disease. But if your cat shows any signs of illness, take him to the veterinarian just to be safe especially if any humans in your household have swine flu or influenza-like symptoms.

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