MDOL still investigating cause of canine respiratory outbreak, does not believe it is influenza
We have received many phone calls with questions regarding the current canine upper respiratory outbreak in the Gallatin Valley. To better serve our clientele, we would like to provide some educational information and the latest update from the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL).
Should I be concerned about where I can take my dog?
We are taking every precautionary measure to ensure that our hospital stays clean and sanitary to minimize the risk of transferring infectious diseases as are many of the other veterinary clinics in the valley. If a dog is coughing or showing upper respiratory symptoms, our policy is to do those examinations outside and as far away from the building as possible. We ask that owners leave their dogs in the car and not enter the building. The disinfectant that we use kills bacteria and viruses. We have not appreciated any patient contamination thus far.
Our staff members are recommending to call grooming and boarding facilities before taking your pooch there if you have concerns. Many have been affected around the valley and have disinfection protocols set in place. We do not know their current status, which is why we recommend calling first. Please don’t be discouraged to visit these places, just be sure to call first. However, we are still advising to avoid dog parks or other heavily canine populated areas until things calm down.
Should I vaccinate my dog for the canine flu?
We believe that it is prudent to protect against everything that we can. We carry the two strain combined canine flu vaccine. It still may not give your canine companion full immunity to this upper respiratory ‘bug’ moving through the valley. Still, if you like to visit dog parks, take your pooch to a boarding facility or the groomer, it could be recommended.
If your dog has not had this vaccine before, it will be a two-part series, and then an annual after that. Just like when they were a puppy, the vaccine needs to be given again in 3 to 4 weeks to stimulate the immune response. In general, the normal immune response to vaccines takes approximately two weeks to work. However, we cannot guarantee when full immunity will take effect since every animal is different.
Can I give the vaccine myself?
We recommend bringing your dog into the clinic to have either one of our Veterinarian’s or Technician’s administer the vaccine. If we have seen your dog in the last two to three months, we will waive the exam fee and it can be made as a Technician appointment. This policy is in place to protect the health of your canine companion. We want to be sure your dog is healthy before giving them a new vaccine.
Here is the latest update on the canine upper respiratory outbreak situation:
“Over the past month, MDOL (Montana Department of Livestock) has received numerous calls from veterinarians regarding a surge in severe respiratory cases in dogs in Bozeman, Livingston, and Billings. Reports to our office indicate that it is most severe in young animals and that previous vaccination for kennel cough does not seem to be protective. Testing done has included respiratory panels through commercial laboratories as well as post mortem examination and testing at the MVDL (Montana Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory). All PCR testing has been negative for canine influenza. We have received a few reports with positive Mycoplasma results.
Tuesday, it was reported that canine influenza has been diagnosed in animals in Gallatin County. At this time, MDOL has not seen confirmatory testing that definitively supports canine influenza as the case of this respiratory outbreak. Results provided to our office show acute titers consistent with the acute phase of infection, but not confirmatory for canine influenza.”
Quoted; August 10, 2017 from Marty Zaluski DVM, State Veterinarian, Montana Department of Livestock
UPDATE: August 11, 2017 – Official statement made by the MDOL State Veterinarian
UPDATE: August 11, 2017 – Billings Gazette article
Currently, we are working in conjunction with the Elanco vaccine company to offer free testing for any canine patient exhibiting upper respiratory symptoms and are up to date with their Bordetella vaccine. At this time, we would also like to note that we have not seen any confirmed deaths at our practice as a results of this respiratory ‘bug.’ We are all concerned and working vigilantly to find out the root cause of this respiratory epidemic.
- AVMA’s Canine Influenza ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ for pet owners
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘Key Facts about Canine Influenza’
- Merck Animal Health’s website solely dedicated to Canine Influenza
- Cornell University’s link to their ‘Canine Influenza H3N2 Updates’ for the nation