ST PAUL, MINNESOTA - Following a surge of suspected canine influenza cases across three Twin Cities counties; Hennepin, Anoka, and Washington Counties, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health has issued new guidance to help pet owners, dog care facilities, and veterinarians combat the spread of the canine influenza virus.
The suspected outbreak was first announced on April 6, 2023, when the Minnesota Board of Animal Health began quarantining dogs from an organization running out of shelters in Hennepin, Anoka, and Washington Counties. The dogs in question were rescued from Oklahoma and brought to the region. The organization reported to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health that nearly 200 dogs were sick in their facilities on the morning of April 6, 2023, which prompted a six-week quarantine of the dogs in the shelters based on the clinical signs the dogs were showing. So far, a single shelter that is run out of the counties Anoka, Hennepin, and Washington has four confirmed cases of Canine influenza and 196 suspected cases. Four additional cases have been confirmed in Hennepin County.
According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, within the Twin Cities, there appears to be strong evidence that the virus was also spread amongst the canine community as they have seen an influx of calls from veterinarians around the Twin Cities for suspected cases of the virus. Due to the cost of getting the tests, owners often won't get the test done, lowering the number of positive test results, leading to inconclusive results and an unknown scope of the virus.
According to Dr. Veronica Bartsch,
If a dog is symptomatic and an owner elects not to test or a test comes back negative, we’re still encouraging veterinarians to treat and advise patients for canine influenza out of an abundance of caution.
The following are the latest recommendations from the latest Minnesota Board of Animal Health press release.
- Avoid direct dog-to-dog contact with dogs outside of your household or dogs known to have been boarded, attended dog day-care, or visited a dog park in the last seven days.
- If your dog is sick, keep them at home, away from other animals, and call your veterinarian.
- Consider avoiding dog parks and other locations with uncontrolled dog-to-dog contact.
- Keep your distance (six feet) at places where dogs congregate, like dog parks and while walking with your dog.
- Canine influenza can also spread via contaminated surfaces, including skin and clothing. If your dog is sick or you have contact with dogs outside your household, wash your hands and change clothes before interacting with other animals.
Dog day-cares, kennels, and shelters
- Direct staff to be on alert for clinical signs.
- Immediately separate symptomatic dogs from others and contact your veterinarian. Signs of influenza include coughing, runny eyes or nose, hard swallowing or throat clearing, fever, and lethargy. Signs often appear suddenly, and a dog that appears healthy in the morning may show signs in the afternoon.
- Any dog showing signs of respiratory disease should be immediately sent home and not allowed to return to the facility for 30 days. Even a dog that appears to have recovered can continue to shed infectious virus for 30 days.
- Increase cleaning and disinfection measures and frequency. Advise staff to wash hands and clean their clothes between dog interactions.
- Consider reducing the number of dogs in playgroups and keep group membership consistent.
- Screen new arrivals for upper respiratory symptoms.
- Report positive canine influenza test results to the Board via our online case report form. Once the Board receives a case report, our agents conduct all follow-up investigations and quarantine procedures with your client.
- Treat symptomatic patients cautiously and advise a 30-day in-home quarantine even without a positive influenza test.
- Practice good biosecurity in the clinic. Isolate dogs with respiratory illness and thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces and instruments used during the exam. Wear full PPE when treating these patients.
Canine Influenza Symptoms
According to the Board of Animal Health, the clinical signs of canine influenza are generally mild and include cough, runny nose, and fever, but not all infected dogs will show signs of illness. In some cases, though, the disease can occasionally become severe and could result in pneumonia or death. There have been no cases where a human became infected by or from a dog with canine influenza.
- low-grade fever
- disinterest in food
- runny nose
- shortness of breath