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20 August 2009


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Liz Palika

A few days after a dog show several years ago, Riker came down with the canine influenza - diagnosed and tested by a vet I trust - who said he had seen several cases come from this particular dog show.

Interestingly enough, none of the other dogs at home got sick, and Riker was over it quite quickly. With him anyway, it was very much a 'nothing.'

And I'm hoping the exposure will help the other two develop a resistance to it for the future.

Gina Spadafori

That makes two! Woody picked up what Texas A&M vet school later figured was canine influenza at the Houston dog shows when he was about 8 months old (he wasn't mine at the time).

Woody was in pretty bad shape -- 10 days in ICU at A&M, and they didn't think he would make it. He pulled through and has been the picture of good health ever since.

The Houston show is a big one, and best guess is that the bug came in with dogs from Florida, where the discovery had just been made after some greyhound deaths.

Ingrid King

Thank you for this article. I live in Fairfax County, where the shelter was shut down due to this canine influenza, and people seem to be freaking out left and right (thank you, Washington Post, sigh). I'll be sure to send this article to people who are concerned.


On this one I must differ with your expert. Unfortunately I speak from experience.

We run a rescue in FL and had a bout of canine influenza a few years ago - right about the time the virus was isolated at UF. We brought it by pulling puppies that were going to be euthed in Miami-Dade. One of the puppies had a runny nose...

I hope nobody ever has to go through what we did. Within days we had 20 deathly sick dogs, two that were on IV for weeks at a time and relapsed after they came home from the hospital and had to go back on IV. We had two deaths - dogs that were in the prime of their life, 50 pounds, healthy and fully vaccinated. Up one day and dead the next from hemorrhagic pheumonia. And the vet expense of trying to save the rest nearly bankrupted us. Many of the dogs continued to cough for weeks after they were out of immediate danger. Our rescue was in quarantine for three full months.

I have no opinion about this new vaccine, and I don't particularly like the way it is being promoted. Canine influenza may not be a huge risk for the average dog owner. But it is indeed a medical emergency and a killer, and if you suspect your dog has it you should see the vet immediately. Tomorrow may be too late.

Christie Keith

Mary, I believe that current thought is that hemorrhagic pheumonia is a separate disease -- that's what killed the greyhounds in Florida. The dogs in your rescue most likely had concurrent infections with two different pathogens, and being protected against other diseases (being, as you said, "fully vaccinated") wouldn't have had any effect on them.

I'm very sorry for what happened, whatever the cause. :(

Liz Palika

This San Diego dog show was pretty big too and there were a bunch of dogs in from the East Coast. My vet said he had seen a good half a dozen dogs in the week following the show. None were bad, though - most were like Riker - just a mild case.

Kim Thornton

Harper and her littermates didn't get vaccinated until they were 11 weeks old (we weren't able to pick her up until she was about 14 weeks old). I thought my vet's eyebrows were going to fly off his face when he heard that.


The CIV vax is on my list along with Lepto, Lyme, and several others.

At least they're being honest now though... "This vax, in general, won't DO anything positive.!" Your dog will still get infected, still get sick, and still be a hotbed of germies for other dogs. But at least you get to give the vax company and the vet a bit of $$ for some false security against the boogeyman.

I have the same argument every time we decline bordatella vax at my vet. My guys have had Kennel Cough twice. ALL of my guys, fosters included. In total we've had about thirty dogs in the house with KC. ONE had to see a vet for antibiotics (a tiny dog with a poor constitution) the remainder got a runny nose for a day or two, a week of coughing, and then all was over.

It still blows my mind that they even offer a vaccine for such things.

Sorry, I'm still a bit riled up - we just got back from our appointment with Fable (8mos) and Juno (8wks) and the vet wanted to give both of them a DA2PP vax. Fable was there for her Rabies vax only, and Juno was just there for a well puppy checkup and deworming. We've made the decision not to vax her until 12 weeks. We got a new vet, too - who didn't know the whirlwind he was walking into, particularly when he said "what are they eating" and I replied "everything! Dry, wet, dehydrated, homecooked, raw... everything!" Of course, he began his Science Diet speech which got cut off pretty quickly (but gently!). He was seriously miffed.

Just can't wait now for this vaccine to hit my area, so that it's one more thing a handful of vets in my practice can shake their heads at me about (the rest know better, and realize that my dogs are healthy and that's what counts!).

... will it ever end?


Anne T, the human vaccine companies have a lot of experience working with flu, and with manufacturing human flu vaccines. It's virtually an assembly line, and the major variable is correctly identifying which strains to include. And swine flu isn't new; it's just especially scary because the 1918 "Spanish flu" was a swine flu. There's been research on it for years. The main problem with swine flu is that it became a problem too late to be included in this year's standard flu vaccine, and it needs to be produced separately and will therefore be a little late.

Canine influenza, though, is another matter, because there isn't nearly as much research done for the benefit of dogs as there is for humans. They really don't know as much about dogs as they do about humans, or about animals who are more convenient to use for more kinds of research to benefit humans. Not as bad off as cats, of course, but still not as well understood as humans or rats or mice.

Not to say that something can't go wrong with the swine flu vaccine; it did, after all, the last time they thought swine flu was coming back, in the 1970s. But, honestly, we have learned a few things in the last thirty years.

Anne T

Does anyone else see a similarity between the new swine Flu vaccine, which has had less than 8 months before manufacture, and the vaccine for Canine Influenza which has had several years to develop an effective one, or am I just being overly paranoid about what Big Pharma thinks is their best money making option?

I don't want this issue to get sidetracked on to human health care. It's just I see a particular direction of big Pharma, and not necessarily one that promotes or insures the health of either humans or canids, but lines the Industry's pockets by playing on our fears.

Sue Cosby

We recently had a situation in Philadelphia where what was initially thought to be Canine Influenza turned out to be hemorrhagic pneumonia caused by the bacteria Streptoccocus equi subsp. zooepidemicus. But the idea that Canine Influenza was behind the illness was hard for many to shake.

It was then thought that Canine Influenza was the "door" that allowed in the hemorrhagic pneumonia (a bacterial infection) but we ran thorough testing and found that the two were NOT concurrent in most cases.

Something that I learned in the process of working with the pathobiology department that cultured the strep zoo was that strep is so common it is often overlooked as a cause of disease. In those cases, illnesses like Canine Influenza are often implicated regardless of full and complete testing (that includes the more mundane options).

Thanks for the great article, Christie and very sorry about your dogs, Mary.

Christie Keith

This isn't the same as the swine flu we had in the past; this one is a combination of both avian and swine strains, mixed in with human strains, which is something not previously identified. So while I agree overall with your comment, Lis, I don't think this is just another swine-origin flu.


The New Parvo-- it was going to wipe out whole bloodlines.

What really was going on was that puppy-millers were getting lots of parvo cases in their dogs and they were spreading the rumor that there was this new super parvo that was going to kill off all the dogs.


Yes, Christie, but they've been working on the avian strains, too, which they expected to be the Next Big Threat, and of course they work with assorted human strains all the time. The combination is new, but all the pieces are familiar.

And despite initial reports, it's proving to be, so far, a fairly mild strain. The only thing difficult about this one is the timing--despite those initial scary reports.

Hmmm. I'm beginning to see a pattern here...

What will we do when there's a genuinely dangerous outbreak?


The only legally required vaccine is Rabies, AC can't accuse you of anything for not doing any others. =P

Dr. Tony Johnson

I am not in the vaccine-giving business, but I tend to lean away from a blanket 'let's vaccinate everybody' stance. I, too, have seen many, many problems that I suspect were vaccine-related (I am going to stop short of saying 'vaccine-induced'). My own personal dogs, age 11 and 4 have not received vaccines in years. Please don't tell my local animal control authorities!

On the flip side, I have seen many diseases caused by lack of vaccination - parvo being the most obvious case. So, my answer is to try and match the risk of a particular disease in an individual with the potential benefit of the vaccine.

You have to take each case individually. If I had a patient with a chronic respiratory condition who might suffer a severe illness if he contacted influenza, I might recommend an influenza vaccine for that one individual if they were going to en endmeic area, or an area of high density dogness. Ditto on kennel cough - you are preventing a nuisance for most dogs, but in a select few it can have potentially serious ramifications; the benefits outweigh the risks for those few.

I think the key for vaccines, like nutrition, is to talk to folks about what is right for their dog, not for some random population of dogs as a whole.

Terry Albert

Thanks for a sane post about this issue. I board dogs in my home, and clients ask me about these things and what to do about it. I also read inaccurate information on the discussion lists I am on.


Both the H3N8 canine flu and Streptoccocus equi subsp. zooepidemicus are HORSE (equi) diseases that jumped the species barrier after MLV - modified (as in mutated or genetically engineered) live virus vaccines for horses were developed for those diseases.

Equine zooepidemicus is still rare in dogs Europe because they did not allow the US vaccines to be used there, and the live engineered vaccine they did try on horses there was recalled after some dogs in the UK were diagnosed with equine zooepidemcus.

MLV vaccines are unstable and not allowed to be used in swine. (But it was allowed for the horse racing industry?)


"Currently, modified live influenza virus vaccines are not available for swine, although

results of recent studies of gene-deleted vaccines have been reported. Modified live virus vaccines provide enhanced stimulation of cell-mediated immunity as compared

with inactivated vaccines, thus providing more heterosubtypic immunity (i.e.,

protection across subtypes). The potential for reassortment between field strains and

the vaccine virus producing new reassortant viruses is a concern for attenuated live virus


Viruses can also pick up host cell genetics. One prominent MLV horse flu vaccine was grown in MDCK (DOG) cells! No wonder it jumped the species barrier in such a dramatic way.

Now see how connected this patent holder to the new dog flu vaccine is to the research group that is creating these MLV vaccines for the horse racing industry:

He is going to announce ANOTHER NEW VIRUS next month.


Archive Number 20090820.2945

Published Date 20-AUG-2009

Subject PRO/AH/EDR> Influenza, canine (H3N8) - USA



A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the

International Society for Infectious Diseases

"Dubovi and his team determined the cause was the H3N8 equine flu

virus, which jumped from horses to dogs. In addition to spreading

from dog to dog, canines can also catch it from humans, who may have

come into contact with infected animals.


Dubovi would like to see "blanket vaccinations in affected areas, as

it would be nice to get this virus out of the dog population."

The virus at present is more adapted to horses than to dogs, so

wiping out the illness now would prevent future possible mutations

within canines.

Since dogs are in regular contact with their owners and other people,

the illness could potentially spread from dogs to humans in the

future, he suggested, given that it has already jumped from one

species of mammal to another.


More bad news appears to be on the horizon. Next month [September

2009], Dubovi said he will announce the discovery of yet another new


In the meantime, researchers continue to study why some viruses jump

species, and what can be done to eradicate these illnesses."

(Shouldn't you know how viruses mutate to jump species BEFORE spraying live mutated virus nasal vaccines around that were cultured in companion animal cells? Dogs come into frequent contact with horses, after all.)



Connect the dots. Just holding a patent on a vaccine and recommending blanket usage is a conflict of interest. (And there are strong connections between him and the CDC's chief virologist.)

They can't lose with their live virus vaccine merry-go-round and our dogs get sick while they get rich!


This one says it all. Real chipper against a backdrop of pet suffering and death. Where is the interest in overall animal health?


Give the Dog a Shot | Vaccination Changes Bring New Opportunities for Drug Makers and Veterinarians

" In 2007, Cornell University filed World Patent Application 2007118206/WO-A2., which discusses canine influenza virus exclusively. The inventor, Edward Dubovi presents the isolation of canine influenza virus, as well as vaccines, detection and treatment of the virus. Another patent, 2007024947/WO-A2, assigned to Merial, also discusses canine influenza vaccines. This invention encompasses recombinant poxvirus vectors encoding and expressing influenza antigens, epitopes and immunogens that can be used to protect dogs against influenza. The eventual availabilities of such vaccines will be a tremendous step in infectious disease control for dog owners...


Changes Bring New Opportunities

It seems in the years since the release of the AAHA’s new vaccine protocol, developments in canine vaccinations, as reflected in recent intellectual property filings, indicate that a new paradigm in veterinarians’ common practice is helping to revolutionize how breeders and pet owners care for their animals. It also is resulting in a shift in research efforts at major institutions and companies.

It is likely that although philosophies have changed, dog owners will feel more confident in their care options, and revenues of vaccine manufacturers and veterinarians will not be affected. Developments in specialty vaccines will offer many new options in the future, while identification of new strains of viruses will provide endless research and profit potential for universities and pharmaceutical companies alike...."


Alex, I just want to commiserate on how wear I get of the "vet-wannabes" sitting at the front desk in so many vet offices. I really wish the vets would clamp down on that sort of thing when it happens, but usually they don't as I have found that behavior is so deeply enculturated in so many vet practices/hospitals/etc. of my experience.

I doubt that HUMAN nurses/receptionists would legally get away with spouting off and giving advice as if they know as much or more than the licensed practitioners they work for . . . . . .


Greetings All,

First and foremost thanks for this information. It is confirming some of my suspicions which began yesterday.

My wife and I wanted to get away for a few days towards the end of the month so we called the kennel where we have been boarding our GSD since he was a pup (he'll be five in Dec). I was expecting a yes / bring his recent vaccination record which is SOP but what I got instead was a five minute tale of how the H3N8 virus had caused a death in a nearby dog kennel and that unless my dog was vaccinated he WOULD get this virus because NO DOG had any immunity to it. I asked for the name of the kennel where the death occurred and the response was “I’m not sure”. They went on, saying that the new vaccine greatly reduced the severity of the flu and the HEMMORAGING LUNG LESSIONS that it caused. They said that the 80% of infected dogs showed symptoms and 10-20% of those became SEVERLY ILL and could die within 24hrs of contracting. I guess you could imagine by this point I’m thinking whether getting away for a few days is worth my dog’s life! Now here comes the part where my “BS” radar kicked in big time: I asked if this was so deadly why wasn’t I contacted by my Vet. We have an excellent Vet, I would trust him to do surgery on ME before 90% of the general medical community. Her response was “well Schering Plough just delivered their first doses to us”………..I was like WTF? You mention the vaccine MFG by NAME? I then asked her if she had any veterinarian training and she said no and I asked to talk to a Vet Tech or a real Veterinarian……….and she put me on the phone with the RECEPTIONIST, who apparently is some sort of expert on canine immunology. I asked her about the kennel where the death occurred, same response. She then started the same “speech” I received from the first young lady. At this point I’m thinking they’re trying to scare me into paying for an injection (which turned out to be a series of 2) for my pup. It was “get this or your dog may die”. Scare tactics, written and delivered by Schering Plough. Yeah, we could take our vacation, yeah, we could say “no” to the injections - but when you’re sitting poolside sipping a martini while your dog is laying in one of our kennels coughing blood out of his lungs and dying alone REMEMBER THAT YOU WERE WARNED. What really sucks is that we liked this place and so did our pup. My trust is now shaken, I don’t know if I want to do business with them anymore. I researched the CRAP out of how “the H3N8 virus had caused a death in a nearby dog kennel” and there is NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. There was a confirmed death of an elderly dog in Fairfax VA (sorry, my sympathies to those who loved the dog), but the kennel NAMED THE COUNTY I LIVED IN then would not divulge a name. They lied to me, or at best gave out unsubstantiated information which is no more than rumor. Trust violated. Anyway, I contacted my Vet and he sort of laughed at them. He said that he wasn’t getting the vaccine in until 9/4 and if we wanted to we could bring our big guy in and get him a shot. I’m not sure. I haven’t calmed down from yesterday.

Thanks for reading my rant hear. I’m curious if anyone else got the same speech. Please if there are any questions ask away.

dan in ashburn, va

I was glad that I did some research online this am to see what the big deal was. As expected, people are making a big deal out of what so far, appears to be minimal risk. I just found out a couple of days ago that the kennel we have been using for several years, now requries the vaccine prior to boarding. They want to charge $60/dog for the 2 shot series. My vet wants to charge $30/dog plus an office visit of $50. Don't know why they need an office visit when I take my dogs to them on a regular basis. I guess it's another way to get money out of us for wanting to protect our "children." The vet provided me with the Schering-Plough pamphlet. The pamphlet asks 6 questions to determine if your dog is at risk, of which almost everyone will answer "yes" to at least 2 of them, which instructs you to ask your vet what can be done to protect your pet. I feel that this whole thing is just another way to get money at the expense of pet owner who love their pets. We have 2 dogs and both are current on all of their shots to include bordetella and lyme (we live in a really high tick area) and we have them on sentinel etc for hearworm etc. I feel like we are very responsible with protecting them. My wife and I discuss how our parents protected pets when we were growing up and they did just about nothing. So times have changed and I'm glad to protect and monitor them for heartworm etc., but how much do they really need? Thanks for all those who provided opinions and sorry for anyone who has lost their pets to this virus.


...one more thing...yes, we're going to board our GSD there as we originally planned.


Comment by Alex — September 8, 2009 @ 9:58 am

My wife asked why I was told the things I was the day before and the lady said that she really didn’t know but the person responsible had been identified and “the proper course of action was being taken”.

Hmmm . . . . wonder if this was the same "helpful individual" who was unwilling to put your wife through to the manager without first submitting her to the 3rd degree?


Greetings All,

I wanted to provide you all with any update. If what you read seems a little confusing believe me I find some of it confusing as well. My wife who has some medical training called the kennel the very next day. She immediately asked to talk to the manager of the kennel and when asked why she told them that she worked for the Company that does most of their laboratory work (truth). Now that she was passed the "help" she told the manager about what I had been through the day before and the manager immediately apologized and thanked her for calling back instead of just walking away and finding our boarding services somewhere else. The manager confirmed:

1. There were zero canine flu deaths in Lehigh County.

2. 80% of dogs infected showed NO SYMPTOMS, 20% had runny noses and a bit of a cough. Among the 20% less than 1% of THE 20% died, and that was always due to a condition that had further weakened their immune system and led to pneumonia.

3. The flu takes a minimum of three days to manifest symptoms. Even if our GSD contracted the flu there we would have him home before he got sick (and then we could seek care from our trusted vet.

4. (and this is probably what I wanted to hear more than anything) They are taking active steps to keep the flu from spreading on the chance it got into their kennel (daily disinfecting common areas, watching out for dog sniffles, etc).

My wife asked why I was told the things I was the day before and the lady said that she really didn't know but the person responsible had been identified and "the proper course of action was being taken". Don't know what that meant.

In a nutshell, if your dog is healthy I believe you have little to fear from this flu in its current form. As a matter of fact if your pup is as social as mine and comes in contact with lots of other dogs there is a decent chance that since this thing has been around since at least 2005 your pup may have been alrady exposed, showed no or little symptoms and is now IMMUNE to this strain.

Dan and (other) Pat, thanks for the comments. I hope the addtional information helps you as well. Just had a thought, you know how some parents have chicken pox parties for their kids? Where they hope to get their kids infected and passed the disease young in order to mitigate the symptoms? I would like to see Shering Plough's take on Doggie Flu Parties! I don't think they would approve. Don't mean to make light of this and tempt karma but I don't think my pup would want me to live life scared, even when it comes to him.


Very high probability of that, Pat! Question I have is what was their motivation? Did the SP Distributor offer the individual a bonus for every set of flu shots they freightened someone into getting for their pup? I just completed a marketing class and one thing we learned about was how advertising affected public opinion. The person thought they were saying "get this shot, it's a no brainer and here's why!" when in fact they were saying "our kennel is not safe, bringing your pup here is risky".


Actually I'm guessing the SP Distributor was well aware of the very common "Front desk/Vet Tech/Vet-Wannabe" dynamic I spoke of earlier and played to it - with great success in this case (at least until you came along . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . )


I think I forgot to mention that my wife told me I was only one of quite a few who were either terrified and refused to board their pooch there or pushed back really hard on the sales pitch.


Hello Everyone!

Just an update, Bruno was boarded from Sept 21st until the 24th. Even at the time we checked him in the clerk pushed for letting them administer the H8N3 vaccine. Once again I repeated that on recommendation of our Vet we did not want it. The clerk started again about the "three dogs dying" (apparently the number went up since the last marketing campaign) and I once again asked "Where? Which Kennel?" and she answered with a blank stare. I let her off the hook and just said "No, thanks, no vaccine". Well it's Sept 29th and when I left this morning Bruno's nose was cold and wet and seemed to be OK. Guess we got lucky so far.

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