Dog adoptions have been temporarily halted at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society as part of the organization’s effort to contain a canine influenza outbreak in the area.
The humane society has also enlisted the help of an infectious disease expert to come up with a plan to stop the spread of canine flu in Birmingham.
“Canine influenza is very contagious and has spread rapidly throughout the Birmingham area,” said GBHS Veterinary Officer Dr. Lindy Alverson in a statement. “There has been a surge of coughing and ill dogs at all GBHS facilities, connected with the detection of the H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in pet dogs in Jefferson County first detected by local veterinarians in early July.”
Bordatella, or “kennel cough” associated with canine influenza, was detected in dogs at the Birmingham-area pet resort Pawms’ locations in Avondale and Birmingham earlier this month, when pet parents boarded their dogs during July 4 weekend.
Most dogs do not have pre-existing immunity to canine influenza, Alverson said.
The humane society is taking a number of steps to control the outbreak, including suspending dog adoptions.
“This will aid in the prevention of the continued spread of this illness,” Alverson said. “Canine influenza is treatable, and all the dogs in our care are only exhibiting mild symptoms. They are responding very well to treatment and are expected to recover fully.”
Cats have little to no risk of contracting the virus and will remain available for adoption, the organization said.
Canine influenza’s incubation period is between five to seven days.
Anyone who has adopted a dog in the last week that is beginning to show symptoms of the illness — coughing, runny nose and lethargy — was asked to email shelter director Stephanie Sullivan at SSullivan@gbhs.org to arrange treatment.
Animals that are a risk to public safety, severely injured, or seized for neglect or cruelty that must be brought into the shelter, will be housed in a separate area from the quarantined population.
Specialized staff is dedicated to providing care for the dogs in each area to prevent cross-contamination.
The shelter will remain open on Tuesday through Saturday except during holidays.
The humane society’s field operations team will still respond to incidents affecting public safety and animals in immediate danger.
The outbreak demonstrates the need for dogs to be vaccinated against canine influenza, the society said.