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Canine Flu Found in 21 New Jersey Animals
For Immediate Release: October 26, 2005 Contact:

Lynne Richmond

(TRENTON) – Twenty-one dogs have tested positive for canine influenza virus since the New Jersey Department of Agriculture Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory began screening for the virus on September 28, 2005. Those animals exhibited labored breathing, nasal discharge and a persistent cough. At this time, there is no evidence that humans can catch the dog flu.

Epidemiological investigations showed that three of the dogs that tested positive for canine influenza might have contracted the disease in kennels and shelters in New York State. The remaining cases are still under investigation as to the origin of the disease. The dogs that tested positive are from the following counties: Bergen (3), Monmouth (1), Ocean (1) and Somerset (16).

“The Department of Agriculture has been working closely with New Jersey’s animal care providers to inform them the virus is a threat to dogs in the state and assist them in identifying dogs afflicted with the virus,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “We hope through this proactive approach, the number of animals affected by canine influenza will be reduced.”

The clinical presentation of canine influenza virus infection closely resembles Kennel Cough. Presumptive diagnosis may be made based on a high fever and soft gagging cough of 10-14 days. Early clinical identification and isolation of suspected cases, as well as preventive measures in screening boarders with unknown history or early clinical signs, is recommended.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory is providing preliminary screening for canine influenza. Samples suspect or positive on the preliminary screen will be forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for virus isolation.

The virus was first identified in racing greyhounds and appears to have been the cause of significant respiratory disease on canine tracks throughout the United States for the last two to three years. The most recent cases have occurred in dog breeds other than greyhounds in shelters, boarding facilities and veterinary clinics. All dogs are susceptible to infection and do not have naturally acquired immunity to the virus. Currently, there is no vaccine for the virus. Less than 5 percent of infected animals die from the disease.

The Virology Lab at Cornell University isolated the first influenza virus from a dog that died from the infection. The virus was found to be closely related to equine influenza virus and it is suspected that the disease was passed from horses to dogs.

Dog owners are advised to keep their animals home if they appear ill and to keep their pets away from dogs that appear ill.

For more information on canine influenza virus, you may call the Department’s Division of Animal Health at (609) 292-3965, or visit www.state.nj.us/agriculture/dogflufacts.pdf.