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Outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus in Chicago: Is Your Dog at Risk?

Posted April 08, 2015 in A Vet's Life

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated here.

Do you live in Chicago and bring your dog to the dog park? Then you may have heard about the recent outbreak of Canine Influenza virus (CIV) that started in the middle of March of this year. Since then, almost 1000 dogs have been diagnosed with Canine Influenza virus, according to, and 5 deaths have been reported.

Boston terrier at parkUnfortunately, Canine Influenza virus is highly contagious and can be potentially fatal. It was first isolated in 2004, in Florida, at a Greyhound racing track. Since then, the virus has been seen in multiple states (approximately 40 and counting), according to a Merck Press release1. As this is a newer virus, most dogs are susceptible, and haven’t built up immunity to it. As a pet guardian, know that CIV is not contagious to humans.

Canine Influenza is not kennel cough
Keep in mind that Canine Influenza virus is not the same thing as Bordetella bronchiseptica (which is more commonly known as Kennel Cough). That said, both infections can be spread the same way: by transmission through direct contact with respiratory discharge from infected dogs (contact with the nasal discharge, etc.); by air through sneezing, barking, coughing; or by exposure to contaminated objects (such as dog bowls, cages, clothing, etc.)

Depending on the severity of the infection, Canine Influenza can result in severe damage to the lungs along with secondary pneumonia. Due to the rapid ability of CIV to spread, it’s estimated that up to 20% of dogs can develop severe pneumonia as a result. Clinical signs of CIV can be seen less than 5 days after infection1.

Symptoms of Canine Influenza
Symptoms include:

If your dog shows any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. If your dog is having difficulty breathing, get to your emergency veterinarian – even if it’s in the middle of the night! Thankfully, there is a test for CIV – your veterinarian can send swabs from the nose and pharynx (upper airway/mouth) directly out for testing.

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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer:

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.