Infectious Canine Hepatitis—One Reason To Be Current On Vaccines

Once thought eradicated in the United States, Infectious Canine Hepatitis has resurfaced recently in New England areas. This can be a horrible disease, and seriously affects the liver. Severe cases can be fatal in only a 24 hour period. Keep reading, because there is good news!

What are the signs?

Infectious Canine Hepatitis is an extremely harmful disease, and can be difficult to identify because of its rarity. Symptoms usually begin with a fever above 104˚F, and also include a loss of appetite and your dog might demonstrate a lack of energy. When tested, results might show leukopenia (a low white blood cell count). Because of this, it’s easy to mis-diagnose with parvovirus. Dr. Ronald Schultz of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine concluded that ”There are many vets who wouldn’t recognize a case [of Infectious Canine Hepatits].” Because of its rarity, many younger veterinarians today may not have any experience in treating this disease. Dr. Schultz continued, “It would be the gray hairs like me–or no hairs at all.”1

dog vaccine

Other symptoms might include “apathy, anorexia, thirst, conjunctivitis (eye inflammation , serous discharge from the eyes and nose, and occasionally abdominal pain and vomiting.”2 The purpose of this post isn’t to diagnose Infectious Canine Hepatitis, just to bring it to your attention. If your dog is exhibiting symptoms, consult a licensed veterinarian immediately!

Is my dog going to get Infectious Canine Hepatitis?

This disease was all but eradicated from the United States, and has just recently surfaced. Because of this, it’s dangerous because of its rarity—but its rarity is a good thing. Here’s the good news, your dog may already be immune if he’s up on all his vaccines! Infectious Canine Hepatitis is caused by canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1), a virus that’s similar to the one that causes kennel cough—adenovirus type-2 (CAV-2). Because of its similarities, a dog who is immune to CAV-2 is likely to be immune to CAV-1 as well. So, if your dog is up to date on its vaccines, its very likely that you don’t have to worry about him getting Infectious Canine Hepatitis.

…For those who haven’t vaccinated their dog, there’s no reason to panic just yet. If your dog has had kennel cough, his body may have already developed an immunity against Infectious Canine Hepatitis. Its always a good idea to vaccinate; you don’t want to have to deal with terrible diseases like this one.

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1. Denise Flaim, “An old infectious disease is new again: infectious canine hepatitis has resurfaced in the United States; owners may need to reconsider their dogs’ vaccination protocol,” Whole Dog Journal 16 (2013): 12, accessed February 1, 2013.

2. “Infectious Canine Hepatitis: Introduction,” http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/57200.htm.

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