|(TRENTON) – Twenty-one dogs have tested positive for canine influenza
virus since the New Jersey Department of Agriculture
Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory began screening
for the virus on September 28, 2005. Those animals
exhibited labored breathing, nasal discharge and
a persistent cough. At this time, there is no evidence
that humans can catch the dog flu.
Epidemiological investigations showed that three of the dogs that tested positive
for canine influenza might have contracted the disease in kennels and shelters
in New York State. The remaining cases are still under investigation as to the
origin of the disease. The dogs that tested positive are from the following counties:
Bergen (3), Monmouth (1), Ocean (1) and Somerset (16).
“The Department of Agriculture has been working closely with New Jersey’s
animal care providers to inform them the virus is a threat to dogs in the state
and assist them in identifying dogs afflicted with the virus,” said New
Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “We hope through this
proactive approach, the number of animals affected by canine influenza will be
The clinical presentation of canine influenza virus infection closely resembles
Kennel Cough. Presumptive diagnosis may be made based on a high fever and soft
gagging cough of 10-14 days. Early clinical identification and isolation of suspected
cases, as well as preventive measures in screening boarders with unknown history
or early clinical signs, is recommended.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory
is providing preliminary screening for canine influenza. Samples suspect or positive
on the preliminary screen will be forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) for virus isolation.
The virus was first identified in racing greyhounds and appears to have been
the cause of significant respiratory disease on canine tracks throughout the
United States for the last two to three years. The most recent cases have occurred
in dog breeds other than greyhounds in shelters, boarding facilities and veterinary
clinics. All dogs are susceptible to infection and do not have naturally acquired
immunity to the virus. Currently, there is no vaccine for the virus. Less than
5 percent of infected animals die from the disease.
The Virology Lab at Cornell University isolated the first influenza virus from
a dog that died from the infection. The virus was found to be closely related
to equine influenza virus and it is suspected that the disease was passed from
horses to dogs.
Dog owners are advised to keep their animals home if they appear ill and to keep
their pets away from dogs that appear ill.
For more information on canine influenza virus, you may call the Department’s
Division of Animal Health at (609) 292-3965, or visit www.state.nj.us/agriculture/dogflufacts.pdf.