A respiratory disease outbreak in dogs in a boarding kennel was reported in the southern half of Los Angeles County this week.
Clinical signs reported include coughing, nasal discharge, and difficulty breathing. As of this report, no human illnesses have been reported. Preliminary testing has identified the likely cause as Influenza A, subtype H1N1.
This virus is different than the canine influenza subtypes H3N2 and H3N8 which have caused outbreaks in dogs in Los Angeles County and elsewhere in the United States before. Outbreaks in dogs from an H1N1 subtype have not been reported before in the United States, but they have been reported in recent years in Southern China. There is currently no licensed and approved vaccine for H1N1 in pets.
Veterinarians are being asked to perform testing for influenza on all symptomatic dogs. The cost for this test is $210 here at Family Pet Clinic of Redondo Beach, and results take 3-5 days. Please call us for an appointment if your dog is exhibiting any respiratory symptoms.
As a precaution, dog owners should reduce direct contact with affected pets. They should avoid direct contact with the nose and mouth of ill dogs, wear gloves when handling them, and wash their hands after. Since masks are widely available and in universal use among people, wearing masks around affected dogs is another useful precautionary step. This is recommended because we are still "learning" about this new flu variant.
Pet owners should keep affected or exposed dogs at home, away from other pets and people. The ideal isolation and quarantine periods for this virus are not yet known.
Treatment is considered "symptomatic", which means most affected dogs will not require any medication, and the symptoms will "run their course" in 1-3 weeks. Some dogs may get secondary bacterial infections and require antibiotics.
We will update this information as we learn more.