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Chicago’s Canine Flu Outbreak

A highly contagious viral strain of Canine Flu/Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease has been identified in the Chicago area.  Researchers have identified this strain of flu to be similar to the H3N2 Virus which has been seen in Korea and China.  Although reports differ, news outlets are stating over 1,000 cases have been reported, of which 6 have resulted in death.  Several daycare and boarding facilities in Chicago have closed down in order to assess the outbreak, disinfect and attempt to stop the spread.

The most severe cases have been seen in dogs less than one year and senior age dogs, as these cases may be more likely to lead to pneumonia.  Officials in the Chicago are are warning the spread of this Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease could last for several weeks.


No cases of Canine Flu or Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease have been seen at either Puppy Playground location.


What to watch for:

The Canine Flu is essentially a respiratory infection and presents with coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lack of appetite and lethargy.  If you see any of these signs, please contact your veterinarian.  It also good to keep in mind that April generally marks the start of the Spring Allergy season, so be aware that some coughing and wheezing could be a result of allergies to grasses, pollens, etc.


 What can be done:

The good news is a vaccine does exist for Canine Flu; the bad news is that the vaccine is back-ordered, and the manufacturer has already stated the H3N2 strain they are dealing with in Chicago is NOT covered in the vaccine.  The virus has also being seen in cats.  Humans can not get the dog flu, but they can spread it; the virus can live in fabrics and on hard surfaces.  Frequent hand washing, and disinfecting after touching an infected animal are critical.  Puppy Playground will remain in communication with our veterinary partners on any updates from the manufacturer and/or from the veterinary medical community.


How Puppy Playground is responding:

The staff at Puppy Playground has been educated on how the virus presents, and we are being watchful for any dogs displaying signs of the Canine Flu.  Dogs coming from the Chicago/Northern Indiana area will be screened and questioned if they could have had any exposure to the virus.  Any dogs suspected of being ill will be removed from daycare, placed in isolation until the owner can be contacted for pick up.  We are going to be overly cautious in attempt to keep this highly contagious virus from our facilities! How to protect your dog:

The virus is primarily spread with dog to dog contact.  Presentation of clinical signs may happen 2 – 5 days after exposure, but a dog may be asymptomatic while still contagious.

If your dog comes into contact with another dog who is displaying ANY SIGNS of this illness, we recommend keeping your dog home and away from others for a period of 7 days to ensure there was no transmission of infection.   Additionally, if you see any of the previously stated symptoms, do not bring your dog into daycare!  

Many Puppy Playground client dogs are also frequent visitors to dog parks or other daycare providers, so unfortunately there is no way to isolate who the dogs come into contact with outside of our facilities.  If you do go to the parks or other providers, please ask if there have been any cases reported of Canine Flu.

More information can be obtained at the American Veterinary Medical Association site.

Thank you for help in preventing this illness!

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