I’m once again prepared to call Ontario (and Canada) canine influenza-free… for now, at least. The latest cluster, associated with another importation of the virus from China, seems to have been contained.

The last new positive case was identified October 30, with the likely date of exposure being October 23. We are now beyond the 28-day shedding window that we use for H3N2 canine flu, plus some extra time tacked on to give us time to identify new cases that might have been exposed near the end of the last dog’s shedding period.

The apparent abrupt halt in new positive cases, within two weeks of the first case, once again shows how this highly contagious virus can be contained with quick identification (astute primary care vets), quick response (testing, contact tracing and communication) and responsible ownership (complying with requests to keep infected dogs away from other dogs).

Will canine flu come back?

  • Probably. It’s widespread in Asia and parts of the US. We import a lot of dogs from those areas.

Can we reduce the risk?

  • Yes. Quarantine and testing of new dogs after they have been imported from high risk areas is a fairly straightforward measure that is used too uncommonly.

What else about imported dogs?

  • We need to figure out more about the risks associated with importing dogs and how we can contain those risks. While I’d like to see importations decrease, I’m not naive enough to think that’s going to happen anytime soon, and at this point, I’d rather work with importers to reduce the risk. More on that soon.