July 24, 2015

It is with deep regret that I must inform the public that as of Thursday, July 23, 2015, the Etowah Valley Humane Society has a lab confirmed case of Asian canine influenza A (H3N2). This relatively new strain of flu had primarily been confined to the Midwest states, but has evidently migrated to the South. Upper respiratory problems are common to shelters, animal control facilities, and boarding kennels. We, at EVHS, take great strides to minimize the threats of infectious disease. Over the years, we have put in place very stringent intake procedures that meet or exceed shelter medicine guidelines or GA Department of Agriculture mandates. We take our jobs very seriously. The health and well-being of the animals is job #1. Once we detect any signs of illness, regardless of nature, proper medications or treatments are administered immediately. If the staff cannot adequately control the malady, we seek licensed veterinary care. Once we detected a suspicious respiratory infection, all dogs in the run were put on an antibiotic regimen. Our staff veterinarian came in, did thorough examinations on all dogs, took temperatures, and recommended a treatment plan to contain any potential outbreak. Cultures were extracted and sent to the UGA lab for analysis. All exposed surfaces in the shelter (floors, walls, fencing, bedding, crates, vans) were sprayed with a virucide and scrubbed, including the lobby and common areas. This was done on Monday, July 20, and has been performed every day since. The fourteen kennel runs have been pressure washed with the virucide as well. This will be performed at least twice weekly. Fortunately, we had planned to close this week to implement staff training and do deep cleaning of the facility to host our annual Animal Explorer Summer Day Camp on Saturday, July 25. Obviously, that has been postponed to a later date. Once the lab report came back, within 30 minutes I had completed the GA Department of Agriculture Reportable Animal Disease Form (RAD) and submitted it to the State Veterinarian, Dr. Cuevas. I consulted directly with State Veterinarian, Dr. Cuevas, as well as several local veterinarians from various clinics to gather a consensus, not only regarding our remedy, but to inquire as to how this infection may have occurred. They all assured me that this could not have been prevented due to the nature of our vocation. They ALL concluded that EVHS did nothing wrong. We followed every protocol, but EVHS receives very little to no information regarding the backgrounds of our great homeless pets. Thusly, we have no idea what they have been exposed to. Let me assure you, once intaken, ALL of our animals are vaccinated against the most common diseases that exist in our community (parvo, leptospirosis, giardia, distemper, feline FIV & FeLV, and rabies), however, no known vaccine exists for this particular strain of canine influenza (H3N2). In the interim between detection of the illness and confirmed diagnosis, most of the animals are doing much better due to the pro-active measures put in place by our staff veterinarian. We have not lost a single animal. It certainly appears that the worst is over, but we must remain closed to the public until the virus has run its course. This may take two weeks or longer. We certainly ask our supporters to not lose faith in EVHS. We have gone beyond the call to address this issue. Asian canine influenza is not Ebola and is very treatable. At this point, I implore everyone to take the proper measures to protect your own pets. Please exercise caution when taking your pets out in public. Keep them leashed and away from unfamiliar dogs and environments. There have been no known reports of this virus spreading to other species (cats, humans). In closing, please know that no one with our organization has tried to conceal anything from the public. In an effort to be completely transparent and knowledgeable on the subject, we simply needed to know the facts before we made any statement. We will continue to gather information and reveal our findings. I invite you to research this information and educate yourselves on this virus. Our great homeless pets will survive and so will EVHS with your understanding. We apologize for any inconvenience. – See more at: http://www.etowahvalleyhumane.org/news.html#sthash.2K8cWgoh.dpuf