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Canine Influenza Outbreak in the Chicago Area

Canine influenza has been diagnosed in the Chicago area and has spread into Wisconsin and Indiana. The outbreak has been linked to an increase in dog boarding related to spring vacations. It is anticipated that the outbreak will continue to spread. Cornell University is reporting that the outbreak is caused by a virus closely related to the Asian strains of influenza A H3N2 currently in circulation in Chinese and South Korean dog opulations. This virus can also infect cats. There is no evidence that this virus is transmissible from dogs to people. Canine influenza virus (CIV) is a highly contagious respiratory disease of dogs. The disease has two forms. The mild form is characterized by a moist cough that persists up to 30 days along with fever, reduced appetite, and sneezing. The severe form is characterized by a high fever and pneumonia. The reported fatality rate is less than 10%. A canine influenza vaccine is available and persons who board their dogs (including daycare), visit dog parks, or whose dogs are exposed to other dogs should discuss vaccination with their veterinarians. It is commended that persons operating boarding or day care facilities for dogs require all dogs to be currently vaccinated no less the 4 weeks prior to entry into the facility.

All suspected or confirmed outbreaks of CIV should be reported to the local health department where the animal or facility is located. A directory of local health departments is posted on the NJDOH website: www.localhealth.nj.gov


Dog owners should be aware that any situation where dogs come into contact with other dogs increases the risk of spread of communicable diseases, including CIV. Good infection control in kennels and other places where dogs congregate will reduce that risk. To prevent canine influenza the following is recommended:  

  • Operators of all kennels, pet shops, pounds and shelters should discuss a CIV outbreak response plan with the veterinarian responsible for disease control at the facility. This plan should address the need to isolate and treat infected dogs and quarantine dogs exposed to CIV. 
  • Operators of boarding kennels, including day care centers, should require vaccination against CIV. This vaccination should be administered by a veterinarian at least one month prior to entry into the facility. 
  • Respiratory disease should be investigated, and dogs with suspected canine influenza virus infection discovered after entry into the facility should be isolated, evaluated and treated by a veterinarian. The investigation should include prompt submission of appropriate diagnostic samples. 
  • Infected dogs should be isolated immediately from other dogs for 14 days after the first day of clinical illness. 
  • Exposed dogs in a facility should be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days from last exposure. If possible, quarantined dogs should be separated by a physical barrier. 
  • Isolation protocols should be rigorously applied for all dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.
  • Clean and disinfect all animal cages, floors, surfaces, food and water bowls, and other objects in contact with animals daily. The CIV is killed by disinfectants (e.g., quaternary ammonium compounds, bleach solutions at a 1 to 32 dilution, or potassium peroxymonosulfate) commonly used in veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and animal shelters.
  • Evaluate the ventilation system of the facility and maximize fresh air intake. All exhaust air from the isolation area must be vented to an area outside of the facility. 
  • Facility staff and veterinarians should institute infection control practices to avoid inadvertent spreading of the virus on contaminated clothing, shoes, and other fomites, including the wearing of disposable gloves by persons handling infected dogs or cleaning contaminated cages. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are unavailable) before and after handling each dog; after coming into contact with a dog's saliva, urine, feces, or blood; after cleaning cages; and upon arriving at and before leaving the facility. There have been reports of spread from an infected New Jersey facility to workers' household pets through contaminated fomites, such as shoes and clothing.

Veterinarians, animal control officers and animal facility operators are required to report all suspected or confirmed outbreaks of CIV to the local health department where the animal or facility is located. A directory of local health departments is posted on-line:  www.localhealth.nj.gov


The New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (AHDL) can assist veterinary practitioners with the diagnosis of CIV.  Nasal swabs and serum samples can be collected to diagnose CIV. PCR testing is recommended during the first 4 days after disease onset. Serology is a more accurate test in dogs that have been ill for longer than 7 days and in cases where the PCR test is negative but the index of suspicion is high. Antibodies to canine influenza virus may be detected as early as 7 days after onset of clinical signs. Paired acute (sick for <7 days) and convalescent (10 to 14 days later) serum samples are preferred for diagnosis of recent active infection. Convalescentphase samples should be collected at least two weeks after collection of the acute-phase sample. If an acute-phase sample is not available, testing a convalescent-phase sample can reveal whether a dog has been infected with or exposed to CIV at some point in the past. For dogs that have died from pneumonia or other conditions in which CIV is suspected, necropsy and additional diagnostic tests are available. Veterinarians can submit diagnostic specimens from suspect CIV cases to the AHDL for the following diagnostic testing (serology and PCR):


AGID -- Determination of Exposure -- 1 ml whole blood or ½ ml serum -- $6 -- 1-2 business days

HI# -- Seroconversion/titers -- 1 ml Serum -- $15 -- 2-4 business days

PCR -- Detection of viral RNA -- Swab*: nasal, tracheal/pharyngeal -- $35 -- 2 business days

* Do not use swab with Amies medium or other bacterial culturettes. Synthetic swabs (Dacrontipped, rayon-tipped, and nylon-flocked) produce reliable results on PCR test.

# HI test detects antibodies to H3N8 canine influenza only.

The NJDA, AHDL specimen submission form and the fee schedule are available for use by  veterinarians here: www.jerseyvetlab.nj.gov The AHDL can be reached at (609) 406-6999 if you have any questions or need  information on testing. Biopsy kits are now available for convenient submission of biopsy specimens to the AHDL by veterinarians.

Laboratory specimen(s), along with a laboratory submission form, may be sent to:

(If sent via courier service or dropped-off):

NJ Department of Agriculture
Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory
NJPHEAL, 3 Schwarzkopf Drive
Ewing, NJ 08628

(If sent via U.S. Postal Service):

NJ Department of Agriculture
Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory
P.O. Box 330
Trenton, NJ 08625

Additional technical guidance on CIV is posted on the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Control-of-Canine-Influenza-in-Dogs.aspx