New vaccine could minimize severity, experts say
SUNDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Nowadays, even Fido fears the flu.
Boarding kennels and shelters in at least eight states -- New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Colorado, Georgia and Florida -- saw outbreaks of canine influenza virus last year. The highly contagious respiratory infection targets dogs of any breed and age in any season, killing up to 2 percent of its victims.
"With any respiratory infection in dogs, you do have the potential for it to morph into a secondary bacterial pneumonia, which then might -- if untreated aggressively -- result in the death of some animals," says Edward Dubovi, a professor of virology at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y.
But with proper medical care, dogs usually recover in two weeks without further health complications, says canine influenza virus expert Dr. Cynda Crawford, a veterinarian at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville.
Last July, the first influenza vaccine for dogs received a one-year conditional license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and became available nationwide. The vaccine, made from a killed virus, doesn't prevent infection, but was shown in clinical trials to reduce the duration of coughing and viral shedding so that dogs are less contagious.
"So far, it performs about as well as the vaccines that we give to people, and horses and pigs," Crawford said.
Two allergic reactions to the canine influenza vaccine have been reported, but these were more likely related to the individual patient than the product itself, said Lyndsay Cole, an APHIS spokesperson.
Like human flu, the canine flu virus thrives in crowded conditions, spreading through coughs and sneezes, contaminated objects such as water bowls, and the hands and
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