How to Maximize your Canine Influenza Diagnostic Testing
By Dr. William Fortney
Canine Influenza is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease that affects thousands of dogs annually. Since the respiratory symptoms for canine influenza viral (CIV) infections are not specific, a confirmatory diagnostic sample would be appropriate to definitively rule-in CIV or one of the other canine infectious respiratory agents.
At present the most reliable way to diagnose canine influenza virus infections is by serological (CVI HI) testing. However, because of possible previous exposure to CIV infections and/or a CIV vaccination, an accurate test requires two blood samples. The first sample needs to be collected during the initial illness and the second sample 2-3 weeks later.
Because of the time constraints when using the serology test, PCR completed on a deep nasal swab is considered by most experts to be the preferred sample for diagnosing ACUTE canine influenza. Unfortunately for several reasons, it is relatively common for the PCR test to produce a false negative result (although the dog is infected, the test is negative). Factors effecting the accuracy of the PCR testing results includes:sampling collection timing, sample collection type and media, sampling location, transportation of the sample to the laboratory, and test selection.
The following tables provide guidance to increase the probability of a correct canine influenza virus diagnosis.
Sample collection timingWhile a dog with canine influenza virus may remain contagious for up to 30 days, early sampling significantly increases the chance of a positive CIV PCR diagnosis.
< 24 hours after the first clinical signs
> 24 hours to < 48 hours after the first clinical signs
> 48 hours after the
first clinical signs
Sample collection type and media
Gel bacterial swab / or bacterial media
Viral swab in viral transport media
Viral swab in 0.25 ml sterile saline
Wood handle swabs
Deep nasal swab
Superficial nasal swab
Deep sampling of both nostrils (with the same swab)
Deep sampling of one nostril
Transportation to KSVDL
Overnight on ice
2 day shipped on ice
Canine Influenza Virus Test Requested
Fair to Poor
PCR: false negatives can result
Virus Isolation: false negatives are common &
relatively long turnaround time
HI serology: requires two samples,
2-3 weeks apart
The Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL) offers an influenza virus test as part of the Canine Respiratory Diagnostic Panel (LAD-3400) that detects nine different respiratory pathogens including both canine influenza viruses.
For more information please visit the KSVDL website at www.ksvdl.org and check on tests and fees or contact KSVDL Client Care at 866-512-5650