The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says five more dogs have tested positive for canine influenza in Essex County.
A spokesperson says all five dogs have been living in Essex County for a long period of time.
Earlier this week, H3N2 canine influenza was identified in two dogs in Essex County.
The two original dogs were imported from South Korea (via the United States) in late December and were showing signs of respiratory disease the following day when they were examined by a veterinarian.
The Health Unit confirms all of the infected dogs were in a single foster home.
The virus is widespread in some parts of Asia and is causing outbreaks in various locations of the United States, especially in shelters.
Health unit officials say canine influenza virus is of concern because it is highly transmissible between dogs, particularly in areas (such as Canada) where dogs do not have natural immunity from previous infection and where canine influenza vaccination is rare.
Important points from the health unit:
-Most dogs that develop influenza do not get seriously ill. Respiratory disease that is indistinguishable from other infectious respiratory diseases (canine infectious respiratory disease complex, also known as ‘kennel cough’) usually occurs, although serious (including fatal) infections and/or complications can develop.
-Infected dogs can shed influenza virus for a short time prior to the onset of disease. So, dogs that appear to be healthy are still a potential source of infection.
-Canine influenza vaccines can reduce the risk of disease and are available from veterinarians in Canada.
-Cats can be infected but this appears to be rare.
-Canine H3N2 influenza virus is different than the human H3N2 influenza virus that is a common seasonal flu virus in people.
-There is no known human risk from H3N2 canine influenza virus; however, the risk of reassortment (or mixing together) between the canine H3N2 virus and human seasonal influenza viruses is a potential concern.
-As influenza in animals is a reportable disease, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) are involved in the investigation, along with the University of Guelph.
-Because canine influenza virus (as well as other infectious causes of respiratory disease) can be highly contagious, care must be taken with sick dogs.
-Dog owners in Windsor and Essex County should be vigilant and watch for signs of respiratory disease in their dogs, particularly dogs that frequently have contact with other dogs.
-Dogs with signs of respiratory disease (e.g. cough, decreased appetite, nasal and eye discharge, and fever) should be kept away from others dogs for at least two weeks.
-If a dog with potentially infectious respiratory disease is taken to a veterinarian, the veterinary clinic should be informed in advance so that they can take appropriate precautions, such as admitting the dog directly to an examination or isolation room and using isolation precautions.