Burnham Park Animal Hospital

1025 S. State St
Chicago, IL 60605



The Influenza Outbreak And What You Need to Know

Since March 14, 2015, there have been thousands of Chicago area dogs who have become sickened with respiratory disease. At first, we thought we were just dealing with CIRDC (Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, what many refer to as “Kennel Cough”). Then, after cultures showed that many of these dogs had Influenza A, we thought we were dealing with a subtype of influenza called H3N8 that has been seen in the US since 2004.

On April 12, 2015, Cornell University issued a press release that states that the ongoing canine influenza in the Chicago area is due to the H3N2 subtype of canine influenza, not the H3N8. This is the first identification of the H3N2 subtype outside of Asia. Since this discovery occurred, it is not fully known if the current (and only) available H3N8 vaccine will provide cross-immunity to dogs exposed to the H3N2 subtype. However, since the H3N8 flu is still present in the Chicagoland area, we recommend the influenza vaccine for at-risk patients, and now require it for all pets boarded at Burnham Park.

At this point, it is unclear how the virus first arrived in Chicagoland. There seem to be “hot zones” of infection, and the highly contagious nature of the disease caused infection to spread from there. Dogs at greatest risk include those who spend time among large groups of other dogs: doggie daycare; pet stores; groomers; kennels; shelters; rescue groups; adoption centers; etc.. While some cats in Asia have become infected, they may or may not have been immunocompromised when exposed.

What we know is this:

  • the incubation period of the virus is as short as 2 to 4 days
  • the virus is shed before the dog shows symptoms and for a few days thereafter
  • 80% of the dogs infected will show symptoms (any combination of fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, cough, and/or nasal discharge)
  • the asymptomatic dogs are likely to shed more virus than the symptomatic dogs
  • 3-8% of those infected will get life-threatening pneumonia, with those at greatest risk being very old, very young, immunocompromised individuals and short-nosed breeds
  • until disinfected, the virus can stay infective on soft surfaces (like fabric) for up to 24 hours, and on hard surfaces (like metal) for up to 48 hours

If your dog is at-risk for canine influenza, we have the vaccine available to protect against the H3N8 strain. Please call us (312-663-9200) to set up the first booster; the final dose would be given 2 weeks later. We’ll keep you posted with new information as it comes along. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, please find & like our page for pet health updates.