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​A Canine Influenza Virus Discussion to Have with Veterinarians Now


By Pam Foster
June, 2016


In veterinary distribution sales, our mission is to help practices arm themselves with the best preventative solutions along with diagnostics, treatment and management products.

Usually that’s a very easy task. Veterinarians know what they’re dealing with, and you have solutions to help them.


But one emerging problem is not that simple. A new strain of CIV (Canine Influenza Virus) H3N2 –  is a moving target, and practices aren’t necessarily sure what to do. 

This map from the Canine Influenza Virus Surveillance Network, an industry-wide partnership initiative focused on tracking CIV H3N2 test results, demonstrates the spread across the U.S. And, in late March, the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine confirmed that the H3N2 virus had infected a group of cats in an Indiana shelter, indicating that it can be transmitted from dogs to cats. 

At the NAVC Conference in January, 2016, Dr. Katharine F. Lunn, BVMS, MS, PhD, MRCVS, DACVIM, College of Veterinary Medicine North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, presented industry professionals with an update on managing this threat.


The following excerpts from her presentation give you the primary take-aways on why this is such a tricky virus to prevent, and how to minimize the spread of infection.*

  • “An outbreak occurred in the United States in 2015, but the source of infection is unknown.”
  • “All dogs are potentially susceptible to CIV infection. Because this pathogen has only relatively recently emerged in the dog population there is little natural immunity, and there is no apparent age, breed, or sex predilection.”
  • “Disease is most often seen in animals that are co-mingled, or housed in groups. Infection can spread rapidly and morbidity rates are typically high. This is a particular challenge in shelter situations.”
  • “There are currently two available licensed CIV vaccines in the United States. Studies have shown that vaccinated dogs show fewer and less severe clinical signs compared with unvaccinated controls. Vaccinated dogs also develop less severe respiratory tract pathology and shed less virus. It is important to realize that vaccination does not completely prevent infection. Thus, other methods of control are also necessary.” [Editor’s note: a third vaccine may be coming soon; the first for this particular strain.]
  • “Client services staff should be trained to question all dog owners about clinical signs of respiratory disease and potential exposure to CIV or other infectious respiratory agents in dogs, when scheduling appointments or checking-in patients.” (The AVMA offers a wealth of CIV H3N2 information and tips on their website.)
  • “To diagnose CIV… the best approach is to use more than one type of test. Clinically normal exposed dogs and dogs sick less than 5 days should be tested by PCR. Dogs sick more than 10 days should be tested with serology. Dogs sick 5 to 10 days could be tested with both.”
  • “In most dogs CIV infection does not require specific medical therapy, as it is generally a self-limiting disease. If secondary or concurrent bacterial infection is suspected or diagnosed, antibiotic therapy should be administered. Oxygen therapy, fluid and nutritional support, and nebulization/ coupage are all important in the management of patients with pneumonia.”
  • “A dog that is presented for acute cough or nasal discharge should be considered a CIV suspect. These patients should be separated from other canine patients when presented to a veterinary clinic, and personnel that handle these dogs should wear protective clothing (disposable gown, shoe covers, and gloves). These should be removed before handling any other patients.”
  • Hospital surfaces and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected after contact with CIV suspects. Fortunately CIV is inactivated by many disinfectants, including bleach, alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds, and oxidizing agents. All veterinary offices, clinics, and hospitals should maintain up-to-date infectious disease control protocols. Staff should receive regular training in infection control practices.”
  • “Patients that require hospitalization should be placed in a separate isolation area whenever possible, and staff should again wear protective clothing while nursing these patients.”


You can help make sure all clinics in your region are aware of these CIV H3N2 facts and are prepared to manage cases and prevent the spread of infection. 

Start the discussion today. When you’re visiting clinics, bring up the points outlined in this article. Then, check to make sure practices have all the tools they need – from protective clothing and vaccines to isolation equipment and disinfectant products. Make yourself aware of the latest solutions from the manufacturers in your catalog.

Your role in preparedness for this emerging threat can be highly valuable to practices, patients, pet owners and public health.  


*Excerpts reprinted with permission from Dr. Lunn and the NAVC.



  1. NAVC 2016 Proceedings: Canine Influenza Virus: Outbreaks, Prevention, Vaccination — What You Need to Know Now!



Pam Foster is Managing Editor, Content Marketing for the NAVC (North American Veterinary Community). She is a Certified SEO Copywriter, owner of and the co-author of Wildly Profitable Marketing for the Pet Industry 
(a low-cost resource at just $16.95 plus shipping). She specializes in helping practices and other veterinary 

organizations thrive through strategic marketing content, online and offline.

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