I’ve been holding off saying “it’s gone” but based on all the information we have at the moment, there’s no evidence of ongoing canine flu activity in Canada, at least for now. No new cases have been identified in a few weeks and we are now beyond the 28-day recommended quarantine period for all of our known cases.
We can never say with 100% certainty that there are no cases left in Onatrio, since not every sick dog gets tested. However, it looks like the clusters we’ve been tracking and containing have been controlled.
There is still a lot of canine respiratory disease activity in the province though. Most of this is probably due to canine parainfluenza virus (a completely different virus), which isn’t surprising since it’s our main cause of infectious respiratory disease in dogs in this region. It complicates flu surveillance, since paraflu (and a few other respiratory pathogens) cause disease that’s indistinguishable from influenza. That’s why we’re still continuing surveillance in some areas, and we need to stay vigilant.
While we may have successfully contained these clusters of canine flu (a pretty impressive feat, actually) there is ever-present risk of new introductions of the virus from imported dogs. Large numbers of dogs continue to be imported from areas in Asia where canine flu is rampant. There’s also risk from dogs from some regions of the US, as canine flu continues to circulate in some parts of that country.
I think this shows what the combination of good communication, good surveillance, a quick response and responsible owners and veterinarians can achieve. Whether it’s flu or something else, these simple factors can be the key to effective control of infectious diseases. We presumably haven’t seen the last of canine flu, but we’ve learned a lot about how to control it (and other diseases).