The Silicon Valley Voice

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Canine Flu Hits Silicon Valley

The recent outbreak of the canine influenza virus (CIV) has moved its way into the Silicon Valley, causing Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority to cancel a recent vaccine clinic and the City to shut down its Raymond G. Gamma Dog Park from Jan. 15-18.

City Manager Deanna Santana mentioned the park’s closure in her blog, writing “there is no evidence that any infection have occurred at the Dog Park … Influenza viruses usually do not survive in the environment beyond 48 hours and are inactivated by common cleaning practices. The Department has consulted with Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA), veterinary research and personnel will remove any toys left and hose down the facility.”

Janet Alexander, outreach coordinator at SVACA, said the shelter confirmed Santana’s statement about there being no reported cases of CIV in Santa Clara, but said the shelter is continuing to monitor the situation.

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“As we have always done,” she said, “we continue to carefully screen incoming animals for symptoms and/or signs of illness and isolate animals that are suspect. Our cleaning and disinfection protocols are excellent and our facility was designed and built to incorporate these good practices.”

Although the flu can affect all ages and dog breeds, the illness is rarely linked to death and there is no evidence infected dogs pose a risk to humans. Still, dog owners should be aware of the symptoms and keep their pet comfortable if it shows signs of infection. The majority of dogs inflicted will not need medical attention and will recover in two to three weeks, however, dogs with sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, lethargy, reduced appetite, persistent coughing and fever should be monitored. If symptoms worsen, the affected animal may need to see a veterinarian who can prescribe medications to treat secondary bacterial infections.

Even though CIV infections have been reported in the area, the disease is preventable. Owners should first discuss the vaccine with their veterinarian to determine if it is right for their dogs. In the Silicon Valley, where there have been cases have been reported, it’s important for pet parents to avoid exposure to sick dogs, which can be done by refraining from taking dogs to areas where dogs gather together, isolating any dog showing signs of the illness, washing their hands between interactions with multiple dogs and not sharing equipment or toys between sick and healthy animals.

Alexander noted that dogs can shed the “highly contagious viral disease” before showing clinical signs and while SVACA is considering the CIV vaccination for adoptable dogs, doses need to be repeated in two to four weeks and most of shelter’s residents are adopted within that time.

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