In recent weeks, there has been a lot of news coverage regarding a "mystery illness" impacting dogs in several states including Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and California.

The Mystery May Not Be a Mystery After All

What has been reported as a mystery may not be a mystery at all, according to new reports. According to the New York Times, scientists are saying that the illnesses may not be caused by a single illness and may instead be "a variety of run-of-the-mill viruses and bacteria could be driving the current outbreaks."

Symptoms Similar to That of "Kennel Cough"

The symptoms associated with the current outbreak are not new either and are most frequently associated with what most dog owners know as "kennel cough," or as it is known in the world of veterinary medicine, canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC). They include cough, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

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Symptoms generally resolve on their own in one to three weeks for mild cases. However, some of the dogs have reportedly developed pneumonia as a result of being ill, and there have been a small number of deaths.

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Causes of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex

Several different viruses and bacteria can cause CIRDC. Some of these include canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper virus, and canine influenza viruses. There are two different type A influenza viruses that affect canines.

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), sometimes referred to as ‘kennel cough’ or ‘canine cough,’ is a clinical syndrome. At least nine different bacteria and viruses have been linked as causes of CIRDC. Co-infections (i.e. infection with more than one bacterial or viral agent) are common. Common viral causes of CIRDC include canine adenovirus 2, canine distemper virus, canine influenza viruses, canine herpesvirus, and canine parainfluenza virus. - Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex Treatment

Treatment for dogs impacted by CIRDC typically includes rest, anti-inflammatories, and fluids.

There is no special drug for dogs with CIRDC. The treatment approach depends on how sick the dog is. Most mildly affected dogs will quickly make a full recovery with basic supportive care aimed at avoiding situations that promote coughing and irritate airways. This means encouraging the dog to rest and avoiding excitement and neck leashes. Dogs with more severe illness may benefit from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (to reduce fever and inflammation) and fluids (to treat dehydration). - American Veterinary Medical Association
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Could a New Virus or Bacteria Be Causing the Illness?

While the possibility has not been ruled out that a new virus or bacteria could be the culprit, according to the New York Times, scientists are saying that there is currently no "compelling evidence" to suggest that this could be the case.

The outbreaks could stem from a surge in what scientists called “the usual suspects” — the suite of viruses and bacteria that are well-documented causes of kennel cough. Although many dogs have reportedly tested negative for these pathogens, the results are far from definitive, experts said. Many dogs with kennel cough are not tested for specific pathogens unless — and until — their symptoms become severe. By that point, they may no longer be shedding enough virus to detect easily, scientists said.  - New York Times

More on Canine Influenza Viruses

When hearing "influenza," many may wonder if the virus can be transmitted to humans. Unlike other influenza viruses like "Bird Flu" or "Swin Flu," canine influenza viruses are not zoonotic viruses, meaning they cannot be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the CDC. 

Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. These are called “canine influenza viruses.” No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. There are two different influenza A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus. Canine influenza A(H3N2) viruses are different from seasonal influenza A(H3N2) viruses that spread annually in people. - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Preventing Canine Influenza and Other Respiratory Illness

Indiana law requires that all pets over the age of three months of age be vaccinated against rabies. Most boarding and grooming facilities across the state of Indiana require proof of rabies vaccine, and additionally proof of vaccination against Bordetella and distemper are the most commonly required.

Bordetella is the most common bacterial cause of CIRCD and is often considered a "non-core" vaccine meaning that it is not considered essential for every dog. However, dogs that spend time in boarding and grooming facilities would benefit from the vaccine, according to the AKC, and again, most boarding facilities do require it.

The canine influenza vaccine is not currently required in most boarding and grooming facilities, but considering the current canine health climate, it may be beneficial to speak with your veterinarian about getting your dog vaccinated for canine influenza viruses.

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Indiana Non-Profit Hosting Canine Influenza Vaccination Clinic

Daisy's New Beginnings, a non-profit organization in Evansville, Indiana works with area animal rescues to fund major veterinary medical care required to find those animals that require extra care a forever home. The organization will be hosting a donation-based clinic offering canine influenza vaccines. The proceeds from the clinic will be used to provide additional vaccines to dogs currently residing at It Takes a Village No-Kill Rescue.

Daisy's New Beginnings
In response to the recent news reports about the potential presence of a new virus or canine influenza affecting local dogs, we are donating enough of the canine influenza vaccinations to It Takes A Village to treat 50 of their dogs.   We are also making enough of the vaccines available to treat 100 dogs through a vaccination clinic open to the public.   The clinic is intended to provide a convenient and inexpensive vaccination option to the general public. - Mark Jewell, Dailsy's New Beginnings

If you have any questions about the canine influenza vaccine clinic being offered, you can contact Daisy's New Beginnings by emailing contact@daisysnb. If you cannot attend the clinic, you may consider contacting your veterinarian to see if the vaccine is available for your pet.

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