Count is high for canine influenza outbreak in Chicago

Over 1,000 dogs sick. Five dogs dead. That was the latest count by the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control (CCDARC) when Donna Alexander, DVM and CCDARC administrator, spoke with the Washington Post on April 7.

Alexander is working closely with the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) to capture data. Her preliminary data includes 1,013 cases of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) since January, and 5 mortalities. The outbreak, according to CCDARC, could last several weeks.

“The ages of the animals presenting vary but show more severe forms in dogs under 1 year of age and greater than 7 years of age,” said Alexander.

The University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy reports that Alexander’s data from local veterinarians through March 31 suggests that 73% of animal hospitals have reported an increase in CIRD.

Dr. Brendan McKiernan, Director of the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana and internationally renowned specialist in respiratory diseases of dogs and cats, states that “Avoidance of exposure is the name of game for now.”

That means cautioning clients to keep their pets away from social areas such as dog parks and doggie day cares. (CIRD spreads from dog to dog. It can also live on hard surfaces and in fabrics.)

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), isolation protocols should be strictly adhered to for dogs showing clinical signs of respiratory disease, and clothing, equipment, surfaces and hands cleaned and disinfected after exposure.

Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center offers diagnostic work-ups to detect the presence of CIRD.