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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Evidently canine flu is in my area (Lehigh Valley, eastern PA). Anybody have any experience with this? Is it time to avoid dog parks and other dogs for a while?

Kind of ironic - disease discovered at the "Cold Nose Lodge" kennel.

From The Morning Call, Allentown, PA's newspaper

Lehigh Valley dog tests positive for canine flu
Pet among dozens at Alburtis kennel with symptoms of the new strain of virus.
June 2, 2009
If your dog comes down with a cough, you may want to take it to a veterinarian.

What could be the Lehigh Valley's first case of canine influenza has been reported at an area kennel. Although the rare disease usually isn't deadly, complications can become serious if not treated.

A 2-year-old female Norwegian elkhound tested positive after being taken to Alburtis Animal Hospital in mid-May for a persistent cough and runny nose, according to veterinarian Daniel Smith.

Smith sent a nose swab sample to Cornell University, which confirmed the presence of canine influenza, a disease that first appeared in 2004 at a Florida dog-racing track.

The dog developed the symptoms after a stay at the Cold Nose Lodge in Alburtis. Since early May, more than 40 dogs sheltered at the kennel have shown symptoms, kennel owner Rayne Reitnauer said Monday.

Reitnauer closed the facility for three days over the Memorial Day weekend, giving any remnants of the airborne virus plenty of time to die out.

''Today is our first day back to normal,'' she said. ''We clean like crazy. Even if you don't clean, the virus can't live for more three days on a surface.''

This is the first outbreak Smith knows of in the Lehigh Valley. The danger, he said, lies in that the canine flu can easily be mistaken for the milder ''kennel cough,''which also can be contracted after contact with other dogs.

Dog owners should be alert to any nasal discharge or general lethargy, he said. Canine influenza is not contagious to humans, but is easily spread among dogs. Dogs are usually treated with antibiotics to ward off any secondary infections.

But on the whole, canine flu is rarely fatal. Only a small percentage of the original cases in Florida resulted in death, Smith said, and he suspects the average pet would fare better.

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As someone who just went through this, I would be happy to share my experience with anyone on this flu. We did have 40 dogs with symptoms, but most were just a mild cough. A few did have more nasal congestion, lost interest in food, lethargy and required potent antibiotics. My own dog, who comes with me to daycare every day had only a mild cough when she first woke up two days.

The first few cases looked like kennel cough and were diagnosed as such. We let our clients know about the kennel cough and asked them to keep their dogs home if they showed any signs of kennel cough.

The week before Memorial Day, I had several clients call to tell me their dog had kennel cough. A few had additional symptoms, and were told it was likely a secondary infection that had developed. We worked with the local vet, and we paid to have one of the dogs tested for canine influenza. It seemed to have spread too quickly and the secondary symptoms appeared too quickly to be kennel cough. We finally got the results on Monday.

I called the Morning Call newspaper to alert them to the presence of the disease in the area. I wanted to be sure dog owners and veterinary staff new that it was here. Our clients have reported to me that everyone responded to treatment, and no one required hospitalization. By the time we knew what illness we had been dealing with, the dogs were already recovered. It has been over two weeks since the last dog began coughing.

Now that we know what it was, it is easy to see how it spread so fast. None of the dogs had prior immunity, and dogs are contagious for three days prior to showing any symptoms. A setting like dog daycare, where dogs are in close contact must be an airborne illness' dream come true.

One little silver lining - all of the dogs who were exposed to the flu are now immune to it, even if they didn't show any symptoms.

Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions at [email protected] or 610-965-DOGS.

Rayne Reitnauer
Owner of Cold Nose Lodge

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just saw this reply. Thanks for the info - other than the Morning Call article, I haven't heard anything further about the canine flu locally. And also thanks for putting the alert out.

Please see my PM on the way.
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