Vaccine Now Available for Both Strains of Canine Flu

Animal Hospital of North Asheville has a new bivalent vaccine that will aid in the control of disease associated with both canine influenza virus (CIV) H3N2 and canine influenza virus H3N8. When the influenza virus first started affecting dogs, the only known strain was H3N8. In 2015, our community experienced an outbreak of the H3N2 strain of influenza. By giving the bivalent vaccine, we can provide the widest protection against CIV that is available. This is a killed vaccine, so a series of two vaccinations two to three weeks apart are needed the first year and then one revaccination is needed at yearly intervals. If your dog has received a single-strain influenza vaccine in the past (before the first of 2017), we will need to give a series of two vaccines to achieve the best protection. While we have not seen canine influenza in our area for over a year and we cannot predict if it will reoccur, we want all our clients to be aware that we can now vaccinate against both strains. It is your choice whether to have your dog vaccinated for influenza, just as some people choose not to be vaccinated for human flu, but we want you to be fully informed as you make your decision.  If another outbreak occurs in our community as occurred in the summer of 2015, not only are vaccine shortages likely, but it will take at least 10 days after your pet’s second of the two vaccinations for your pet to develop the immunity needed to lessen the disease (a total of at least 24 days). For those reasons, waiting to give the vaccinations after an outbreak occurs can present problems. The severity of the clinical signs associated with flu in dogs varies greatly, just as it does in people. 

The following excerpt is taken from an October 6. 2016 article by Merck Animal Health, Merck Animal Health Announces USDA Approval of Innovative Canine Flu Bivalent Vaccine.

"Dogs at risk for CIRDC (canine infectious respiratory disease complex) should be vaccinated at least yearly with both influenza strains, H3N8 and H3N2, in addition to the other causes of 'Canine Cough',” said Ronald Schultz, Ph.D., professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. “The occurrence of one strain or the other is unpredictable and so dogs should be protected against both. Because dogs do not maintain long duration of immunity against influenza, it is important to vaccinate them annually.” 

According to clinical studies by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, the CIV H3N2 may be shed for an extended period of time – up to 24 days, which is far longer than what is seen with CIV H3N8.2 As a result, the infection can spread quickly among social dogs in inner cities, doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, sporting and show events and any location where dogs commingle. Clinical signs of both strains of CIV in dogs include coughing, fever, lethargy and interstitial pneumonia,3 and can be spread by direct contact with respiratory discharge from infected dogs, through the air via a cough or sneeze and by contact with contaminated objects, such as dog bowls and clothing or by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.2 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes there is no evidence of transmission of the virus from dogs to people. 

Nobivac Canine Flu Bivalent is recommended for healthy dogs 7 weeks of age or older as an aid in the control of disease associated with canine influenza virus H3N8 and canine influenza virus H3N2. Primary immunization requires two vaccinations given two to four weeks apart. Annual revaccination with one dose is recommended.

The full article is available here.

Canine Influenza One Year Later

Information supplied by Merck Animal Health