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Keeping your pets safe during Minnesota's canine influenza outbreak

As the initial outbreak appeared to wind down, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health received notice that a dog in the community tested positive for canine influenza.

MINNEAPOLIS — Just as the initial outbreak of nearly 200 dogs across three Animal Humane Society shelters in Minnesota appeared to wind down, there is concern that canine influenza has spread into the community. 

Veronica Bartsch, senior veterinarian with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed via email with KARE 11 that one dog tested positive in a case unrelated to the AHS shelters.

"The Board received a report of a dog that tested positive for canine influenza from a Twin Cities veterinarian on Friday, April 14," Dr. Bartsch said in an email. "At this time, this case does not appear to be directly connected to the outbreak occurring at the Animal Humane Society. We are conducting an investigation to determine if there is an indirect connection to those cases or if this is the result of community spread. We will update the public once we have a better understanding of the cause of this infection."

Another challenge is the vaccine supply. Bartsch says for many vet clinics, the vaccine is on backorder. Merck, the maker of Nobviac, the only canine influenza vaccine on the market, confirmed the product is in short supply.

"We understand canine influenza is a serious concern for dog owners, given the limited product in the market. Unfortunately at this time, we don’t have more information to share regarding supply chain," said Kim Gorode, director of Animal Health, via email. "We recommend that pet owners in Minnesota watch out for signs of potential respiratory disease in their dogs and speak with their veterinarian about vaccination options for other respiratory diseases and preventative measures to keep pets healthy."

Bartsch said now is a good time to take extra precautions on where you take your dogs.

"What I’ve been telling folks is you don’t necessarily have to avoid the dog parks, but be smart about it," she said. "So if you go to the dog park and you see a dog that is coughing, or maybe has runny eyes or nose, I would recommend not letting your dog come in contact with that dog."

She says other activities to be mindful of include dog daycare and boarding.

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