Canine Epidemics: Breeding Stock Safety in Jeopardy?

Mary Albee

Canine Epidemics affecting our breeding stock are not new to the dog world.  Those who have been around remember the arrival of parvovirus from Europe in 1978 and the rapid spread of kennel cough to show dogs from racing greyhounds. Veterinary medicine’s ongoing efforts to prevent, control, and treat outbreaks and mutations of viruses follows in the wake of epidemics.

Epidemic: a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.

Canine Flu May Be Just A Warning Shot

Read the headlines.  While Canine Influenza is the emergency now, should drastic measures be enacted to slow down or stop rescue importation of dogs until veterinary medicine can evaluate and determine preventive measures?

Dogs Imported from Asia by Rescue group – LA County Veterinary Public Health

(Los Angeles, April 10, 2017) – Recently, LA County Veterinary Public Health reported the presence of multiple dogs imported from Asia by a Rescue group infected with Canine Influenza (H3N2). All of the dogs are currently in quarantine and thus far, there have been no further reports of ongoing infections.

H3N2 Genetically Almost Identical to Asian Strain – American Veterinary Medical Association

H3N2 canine influenza appeared limited to Korea, China and Thailand until March 2015, when an outbreak that started in the Chicago area was determined to be due to an H3N2 strain.  The H3N8 canine influenza virus represents a very rare event in adaptive evolution; the entire genome of the H3N8 equine influenza virus was transferred to dogs, and the virus adapted to the canine species to emerge as a new canine-specific virus.

The canine H3N2 strain, on the other hand, emerged in Asia in 2006-2007 among dogs suffering from respiratory disease. This strain in Asia likely arose through the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus – possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets – to dogs. The new canine virus spread widely among dogs in South Korea and in several regions of China, and caused an outbreak of respiratory disease among dogs in Thailand in 2012. In 2015, a canine H3N2 that was genetically almost identical (99% identical) to the Asian strain was detected in the United States.

History of Parvovirus and Kennel Cough

Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV) first appeared around 1976 in Europe.  In 1978, Parvovirus arrived in the U.S.  Adult dogs and puppies suffered and survived, or died from the virus.

“By 1978 the virus had spread unchecked, causing a worldwide epidemic of myocarditis and inflammation in the intestines (gastroenteritis).”

Parvo can also cause infections in coyotes and wolves, as well as fox, raccoons and skunks.

CPV is closely related to feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), a virus that has been know since the 1920s to infect cats and mink and other animals. CPV probably arose as the result of 2 or 3 genetic mutations in FPV that allowed it to expand its host range to infect dogs.

Kennel Cough or canine infectious tracheobronchitis began in racing greyhounds and quickly spread through dog populations, hence given the name “kennel” cough.

Epidemic History of Populations in the U.S. – Then vs. Now

  • Catastrophic epidemics on arrival of Europeans to the New America nearly decimated the indigenous peoples with influenza, measles, typhus fever and smallpox.
  • Biological landscape of the western U.S. was irreversibly altered by European seeds and weeds deposited through cattle, sheep and other domesticated imported animals.

Then, we did not know the cause and effect of importation.  Now, we do and have the ability to control the importation process.

Put Emergency Stop on Rescue Importation – Impose Restrictions

To fill the shelters and coffers of “rescue” organizations, hundreds of dogs are landing within our borders and putting our populations at risk.   Let them bear the financial burdens as they are profiting from the sale of the dogs.  A small price to pay considering the risk of loss and medical costs that our purebred and pet dogs and owners might have to cover in vaccinations and medical emergencies.

  • Quarantine: Impose quarantine (per Vet and government recommendations) at regulated facilities prior to entry.
  • Require blood, DNA, stool, and any other recommended health tests to insure against parasites and disease.
  • Require full immunizations by regulated facility.
  • Eliminate “foreign” or unregulated health certificates that in some cases have been falsified.

Breeding Stock Precautions – Bank Semen

Consider this tip as earthquake or disaster preparedness, not doomsday “prepper” mentality.

  • Store Before You Show – Consider it insurance.  You were going to store him anyway.
  • Prevent Against Loss – Canine Flu has caused deaths in our dogs.  Also consider that the medical treatment and drugs may have a negative affect on semen quality.
  • Timing – If semen quality is poor from exposure or treatment, you might miss the breeding that you were waiting for.
  • Gene Pool Preservation – I am not a vet, but since we do not know how this virus, or other mutations, or other diseases that are coming from uncontrolled importation might decimate or affect our live dogs; storing semen may be key to breed survival.

Breeding Stock Safety vs. Show Wins

A master breeder and best in show judge called yesterday to say she was pulling her entries from our specialty upon advice of her vet.  Her bitch had just been bred and her vet was concerned about the health and safety of the bitch and puppies.

Reasonable?  To me, yes.

Science and medicine cannot provide immediate Instagram treatments and protocols.  Not everything is known nor understood about canine flu.  If our only prevention methods at this time are guarded contact with unaffected dogs, so be it.

Years of hard work, love and history are in our breeds.  We have survived other epidemics.  We will survive canine flu.  But what is next?

error: Content is protected !!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This