Canine influenza (CI), also called dog flu, from the family Orthomyxoviridae, is a highly contagious viral infection that affects dogs and cats.
It is a Type A influenza virus and is further detected based on the formation of two specific proteins in the lipid outer layer of the capsid: hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Currently, there are two strains of canine influenza virus in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2.
Reason For Shelter Closure
The outbreak of dog flu successfully killed three dogs at the Wake County Animal Center, forcing the shelter to temporarily close to the public for more than a month (at least 35 days), starting from Friday, Oct. 6, to reduce the spread of the illness.
Jennifer Federico, DVM, Director of Wake County Animal Center, noted, “We cannot take animals in this facility while we’re on lockdown.”
The center will start rejecting animals and temporarily stop other services to prevent new cases. Four hundred forty-nine animals are presently being catered for at the shelter.
High Number Of Infections
Wake County Commissioner Cheryl Stallings notes, “As our community knows all too well, the number of pets coming to us has been pushing our shelter past capacity for well over a year – and unfortunately, it’s that situation – tons of dogs living together in one space – that’s the perfect breeding ground for viruses like this.”
She added that “Animal Center staff are working overtime trying to quarantine, treat and care for these pets – but to do it most effectively, we need to close temporarily. It’s not a decision we’re taking lightly.”
Spread Of Dog Flu
On Thursday, roughly 57 dogs have been diagnosed with upper respiratory infections since September 15th, which is strangely high, according to the center.
Federico stated, “Unfortunately, this has spread rapidly. a lot of dogs are not immune to it.” “It’s not something a lot of people vaccinate for.”
There have been many cases of dog flu across North Carolina, with veterinarians revealing that several dogs are contracting the respiratory illness after staying at boarding or daycare facilities.
Affected Services During Closure
Almost all dogs recover within two to three weeks; they may exhibit no symptoms or develop secondary infections that cause pneumonia and sometimes death. The virus is transmitted through the respiratory droplets when dogs cough or sneeze, and sometimes, the virus also infects cats.
While staff members work toward quarantining, treating, and catering for the affected animals in the shelter over the next month, the WCAC’s services will experience the following:
- Adoptions: Stop adopting pets like dogs, cats, and other small animals. Therefore, they had to cancel the October Pit Bull adoption special has been canceled.
- Community Pet Days: They also canceled the Community Pet Days.
- Surrenders: The Wake County Animal Center will stop owners from surrendering any animals during this closure. Individuals with a current appointment to surrender a pet will be aware of their cancellation.
- Animal Control: There will be regular responses to emergency animal calls in all five agencies, such as Wake County, Raleigh, Cary, Garner, and Holly Springs, yet they will not receive strays or owner surrenders in the field.
- Animal bite: The Animal Center usually quarantines pets after bite incidents; nevertheless, during this time, those animals should instead be quarantined at veterinary offices or in private homes.
The Wake County Animal Center has closed for over a month due to a dog flu transmission that led to three dog deaths.
The overcrowded shelter experienced a rare high number of infections, resulting in its closure to prevent further spread, which affects several services, such as adoptions, community pet events, surrenders, etc. Dog flu cases are rising in North Carolina, demonstrating the need for vaccination and reliable pet care.
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