Brian Middleton: All right. Welcome back Jacksonville. Happy Saturday to you all. We’re do glad you’re joining us today for the conversation with Dr. Ali Kasraeian. I’m Brain Middleton, filling in for Danielle Lee. And we have another great show for you today, can’t wait to jump into it, but I have to remind all of the listeners that throughout the show, if you have a question or comment for Dr. Kasraeian, or I guess at any point, you can always call in to our phone lines, 904-340-1045. That’s 904-340-1045. And our producer, Scott, will make sure to get you on.
So, Dr. Ali, who’s joining us in studio, and what are we talking about today?
Ali Kasraeian: So, welcome to the conversation. Great to see you. Today, we are, as anyone could potentially guess, seeing everything that’s been on the media the past week, we’re gonna talk about the flu. We’re gonna talk about it in two different ways.
One, we’re gonna talk a little bit about everything that’s been going on with regards to the human flu virus, which this year has been just worrisome in terms of how rapidly things are beginning to spread, and the amount of hospitalization that they’ve noticed, especially in the past few weeks or so.
It’s interesting. I covered a story for one of the news segments in town here on a show that I am on, on First Coast Living, where we talked about the flu and at that time there were 30 deaths reported for children. Since that time, CDC, Friday, reported that there have been seven more in the past week. So, we have 37 pediatric deaths from the flu.
And in terms of the concerns for the flu, we’re on track for being one of … Approaching some of the worst flu seasons since 2013 to 2017. 2009 was a big flu season that was very severe. 2014 and ’15 saw 34 million Americans, 34 million Americans contracted the flu and be infected with the flu virus. Of who, 710 000 were hospitalized and 56 000 unfortunately passed away from the flu. This, we’re on track for similar numbers.
So, we wanna talk a bit about what to look out for, in terms of the human version of everything, but also things to do to be proactively preventative. You know, being mindful, wash your hands, cover your cough, and we’ll talk a little bit about why that is.
But on an interesting side note, canine flu in dogs has gotten maybe not quite as much attention, but it’s getting a significant amount of attention this year as well, and to help us have that discussion about the differences between human and canine flu, and the importance of what to do to keep your pets and specifically your dogs healthy during this flu season, and we’ll talk about whether the canine flu is seasonal or not; is Dr. Matthew Wilson, who is actually the wonderful veterinarian who takes care of our puppy, Charlie. He’s a small, about two years a few months, shih tzu, who is just the most fun thing in terms of a part of a day for anyone that he meets and Dr. Wilson was great in terms of getting him acclimated to the world when he was a baby. He’s a veterinarian at Monument Road Animal Hospital and a return guest to the conversation.
Thank you for joining us.
Matthew Wilson: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me today.
Ali Kasraeian: So, let me ask you, in looking at the flu in general, you kinda watch TV, read and see the human side of things as a veterinarian, how does that initially, as the flu season approaches, being the canine influenza virus is not a seasonal progression like the human version is, does that frame your thoughts in terms of what to do from a veterinary standpoint or if your pet parents are infected, does it impact things?
Matthew Wilson: Not exactly. I guess the way I would say it is that because there’s such a tension on TV for the human side of it, we get a lot more phone calls. A lot of people are more concerned about their pets getting the flu or preventing them from getting the flu, asking the question: Can humans and dogs share the same flu? And then, any little sniffle, wanting to get in to make sure there’s nothing going on.
Ali Kasraeian: And again, a big part of what we’re gonna try to do today is demystify pet health, and specifically on this canine flu, so when should people worry? When should you not worry, from that standpoint. So, the canine flu is basically two strains. It’s not like the human virus, where twice a year scientist get together and track which virus is spreading throughout the world and predict which ones should be included in the vaccination for that year. How does the world of veterinary medicine deal with canine flu.
Matthew Wilson: As you said, we typically have … Well, as of right now, we have two strains that we know of, so it’s somewhat similar, prevention, knowing the risk, who’s at risk and why. So, it’s highly populated areas. In other words, animals that go to dog shows or get kenneled a lot or do a lot of dog parks or traveling. In those cases, we take it case by case and determine if we should vaccinate, and that goes into the vaccination, the prevention. We do have a vaccine. We have a vaccine for each strain, but recently they developed a vaccine that will take care of both strains. But similar to humans, we look at the risk factor and not everybody’s a good candidate for it, not everybody needs it, the vaccine that is. So, it’s just a case by case basis.
Ali Kasraeian: Which is a very, very interesting, and also you know, from a Norman Rockwellian healthcare mindset, it’s a much more personalized approach to vaccinations than with humans where really, anyone greater than five years of age, or really greater than six months of age, is thought that they should get vaccinated if they can to prevent not only the possibility of preventing the flu virus and an infection that may be symptomatic, but it does a couple of this.
For example this year, the CDC still recommends that humans get the flu vaccine even though it doesn’t seem to be quite as effective when measured, but it does make the illnesses less severe. And especially for people who are of immune compromised status or people who cannot get vaccinated, the more people who do get the vaccine and the more vaccination we have across our population, we create this thing called herd immunity, where if most people are vaccinated when there are a few people that could potentially be exposed to the virus, those numbers are smaller and the community at large will not reap negative implications of someone getting vaccinated.
Now, with canine medicine and veterinary medicine, that’s a little bit different.
Matthew Wilson: Absolutely. In all honesty, the disease itself is not that severe. I think we have less than a 10% mortality rate. That sounds like a lot probably, but really it’s not. And the signs themselves aren’t that severe, so just the, like you said, the individuality of it all, we take one case at a time, see if they’re at risk and then determine if they should even get the vaccine. You also have to weigh the benefit of a vaccine with the risk of the disease and the severity of the disease and what it’s actually gonna do to your pet.
Ali Kasraeian: And the interesting thing about it is that virtually all dogs who are exposed to canine influenza vaccine may get sick from it. But again, most of the dogs do not … I’m slipping in between people and dogs. Very easy to do. Very easy to do.
So, when you look at this, the canine flu causes coughs, sneezes, they can have a runny nose, a little bit of discharge from their eyes, they can have a fever, they may a little bit sluggish through the day, but they can get severe fevers greater than 104, they can have labored breathing that may turn into pneumonia. So, as a pet parent, when they say that their dog is not feeling well, how do you differentiate from something that’s just gonna pass, or even recognize it. You know, recognizing some of these things in the animals, they don’t tell you anything, when do you know something is going on, period? When do you know that you should take them to the vet? And then, the other part of this that people talk about is; keep your dog away from other dogs that may be sick. How do you recognize that when you’re taking your dog for a walk and other dogs approach them?
Matthew Wilson: It’s absolutely hard. I mean, it is difficult. The good news is most people are in tune with their pets. A lot of times it’s they don’t eat as much, they act lethargic. So, it may be subtle signs but if you’re worried at all, that’s when you call your vet and find out, or take them in to be examined. I will point out that 104 is a high fever for dogs, typically just over a runny nose.
A normal temperature for a dog is around 101 to 103. So, anything over 103, we definitely consider a fever. Those high fevers are when it’s bad. The problem is to determine if your dog has a fever, you usually have to do a rectal thermometer and most people don’t want to do that. So, it means coming to me or going to see their vet and then just evaluating the situation. I would tell people that if you’re worried, if your dog has the sniffles, to eating as much, and again, just acting off, call your vet, go see. And the good thing for us is we can listen to the lungs, see if there’s anything and catch it hopefully early, based on owner’s observations at home.
Ali Kasraeian: So, if you look at the common things, from a respiratory standpoint that just pop into someone, a lay human pet owner’s mind, kennel cough pops up. Say, if your dog is going to daycare, if they’re being boarded and it’s always something that’s asked about and wondered, especially if people are adopting new pets, what is the difference between a kennel cough and flu? Especially since, just like a lot of human diseases like the flu and the cold, they start out with very similar, non-specific symptoms.
Matthew Wilson: Sure, kennel cough actually …