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What You Need To Know About The Biggest Outbreak Of Canine Flu Ever In LA County

Veterinary doctor uses a stethoscope on a Boston terrier.
This year's outbreak of canine influenza in L.A. County is the largest to date.
(RubenPH
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Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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Here’s an outbreak in L.A. County you might not have heard about: Canine influenza has been causing problems at animal shelters, doggy daycares and dog parks since this summer. It's the largest outbreak here ever, according to county officials.

That outbreak most recently put adoptions at the West L.A. and West Valley Animal Shelters on pause. Annette Ramirez, assistant general manager of lifesaving at Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, said access to the facilities reopened this week after every dog had 28 days of quarantine.

"A lot of our population started to exhibit symptoms, which is like runny nose, coughing, sneezing," she said.

After the dogs stopped showing symptoms and completed their quarantine, they were moved to another shelter section with other dogs. During the quarantine period, visitors were restricted.

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Ramirez and others are strongly encouraging dog-owners to vaccinate their pups for the strain known as CIV H3N2.

"Especially right now with the holidays coming up where people travel. And sometimes, they do place their animals into boarding or doggy daycares," she said. "It's important to make sure that those dogs are fully vaccinated."

Ramirez adds that most dogs who get canine influenza get a mild case. It's the dogs with underlying medical conditions that are most at risk.

A Widespread Outbreak

Between July and October of this year, county officials reported about 800 confirmed and suspected cases of CIV H3N2 in dogs and seven deaths. The most recent previous outbreak in 2017 involved just 35 cases. The strain was first detected in the U.S. in 2015.

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County officials said of this year's outbreak:

Of the cases reported, most were associated with attending boarding kennels or dog daycare settings. There are a number of cases that have never visited a boarding or daycare facility, but were exposed while on walks in their neighborhood, at dog parks, groomers, or at veterinary clinics.

Some Things To Know:

  • Symptoms include cough, fever, sneezing, discharge from the nose, lethargy, and/or loss of appetite.  Some dogs have no symptoms. Cats can also be infected.
  • The vaccine is two doses and is given 3 to 4 weeks apart. It takes another two weeks before the pet is considered fully vaccinated.
  • To help limit the spread of H2N3, keep your pet home for 28 days from the first day of illness.
  • H2N3 is not known to cause illness in humans
  • Still, wash your hands after touching your pet

County health officials are also asking people to report known cases. They've also made available a partial list of vaccine providers.

What questions do you have about Southern California?