"I know of a veterinary clinic in the area that had an outbreak that was not announced publicly, Wells adds. "They are afraid
they'll lose clients."
DHA lost $5,000 in adoption money and spent $14,000 on treating 25 infected animals as well as cleaning supplies. Three of
the dogs developed pneumonia from the severity of the secondary infections. One dog was euthanized when its already existing
renal disease worsened.
"Since we are a privately owned organization, we had the luxury of closing to treat the kennel. We were fortunate in that
- Canine Companions for Independence facility in Oceanside, Calif., had 64 dogs infected with canine influenza virus. The nonprofit
organization trains dogs for six months to become aides for disabled people.
Fortunately none of the dogs succumbed to the virus," says Jeanine Konopelski, spokeswoman for the facility.
Origins of an outbreak
The first reported cases of canine influenza were in racing Greyhounds. Officials theorize this influenza jumped from the
horse to the canine.
Dr. Peter Fernandes, owner of Aardvark Animal Hospital near Miami, speculates further that transmission could be linked to
Greyhounds eating horse meat.
"Many trainers feel it is best for the endurance and speed of greyhounds to feed them raw horse meat," Fernandes says.
Crawford concurs citing strong evidence indicates transmission of equine influenza to dogs.
"What needs to be considered is that the virus replicates efficiently in dogs," she adds. "A parallel to this is of the 200-plus
people infected with avian influenza, none achieved the infection from another human. All were exposed to poultry. That's
not to say that won't change."
Influenza-infected dogs, present with:
- Sneezing, coughing and fever
- Nasal discharge
- Labored breathing.
Of those infected, 20 percent show no signs of disease, according to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
Of the 80 percent that exhibit signs, two forms have been observed:
Mild infection — Symptoms include a low-grade fever, nasal discharge, and a persistent cough that could last up to three weeks.
Severe infection — Symptoms include a high fever, increased respiratory rates with difficulty breathing, and other indications of pneumonia.
The secondary pneumonia is where the real danger lies.
"I have treated many dogs infected with this virus and to see one die from it is something I'll never forget," Fernandes says.
Fernandes recalls a necropsy he performed on a Greyhound that had been bleeding from its nose and mouth before death.
"When I opened its lungs, blood poured out," he says. "As a veterinarian, I wanted to cry thinking about the pain the animal
endured before finally succumbing to the disease."
Available treatments target the secondary bacterial infections and dehydration. Crawford says she is privy to rumors indicating
drug companies have submitted vaccines for canine influenza to government regulators for approval.
"The problem with this virus is that it is constantly mutating, and a new vaccine will have to be created annually to prevent
outbreaks," she says.