JN.1 — it looks like a short version of January 1st, doesn't it?
Alas, it is a new Covid variant that's on the uptick — increasing quickly enough to warrant a heads-up. Granted, for humans, we are in the middle of a seasonal uptick in all upper respiratory disease cases locally. However, JN.1 Covid cases are indeed rising noticeably.
On the animal front, it's also important to watch our furry friends for any upper respiratory symptoms. In particular, there is one affecting dogs of note since it can progress quite quickly. We want you to know what to look for and be ready to take it seriously, just in case.
Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include: coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy.
If your dog shows symptoms, contact us during regular business hours, or contact other emergency services outside of regular business hours. Don't panic, but don't 'wait and see,' either. By way of prevention, perhaps for the next few months, avoid crowded dog situations, when possible.
Back, on the human front, it's important to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe. Even though an infection may be mild, evidence suggests that repeated infection increases the chance of "Long Covid" or having debilitating symptoms for six (6) months, or even longer. San Mateo County Health Department encourages us to take all the preventative actions that are available:
1. Vaccination – If you haven’t already, getting this year's updated Covid and Flu vaccines is key. The current Covid mRNA multivariant vaccine has been shown to significantly boost virus-neutralization antibodies including against JN.1. Contact your local health care provider, CVS, Walgreens or other pharmacy.
2. High-Quality Masks – Wear N95 masks in public spaces, especially crowded ones like airports.
3. Minimizing Exposure – Reduce your exposure to crowded places, generally. For example, try to avoid dining in public indoor spaces during the next few weeks while the seasonal rates are peaking.
4. Testing – New combination Covid-and-flu tests are free from the government right now.
Bonus points: To further mitigate risks, perhaps also consider using a portable HEPA filter in common areas when gathering indoors. These devices effectively filter out virus particles.
To be clear, none of the current outbreaks are anywhere near the same as the 2020 holiday season. For our animals, they have you to pay good attention to them. For ourselves, a good vaccine, a good mask and a little care can go a long way. As we head into the new year, may you enjoy the holiday season in the best of good health.