Florida: Home Of Horse and Dog Flu

Before 2003, there was no such thing as a dog-specific influenza virus, even though dogs spend a lot of time with mammals that can be infected with the flu, like humans, pigs and horses. Though dogs could have serological evidence of Influenza A, they were dead-end hosts, meaning the flu didn’t spread between dogs.

That all changed when the H3N8 canine influenza virus came about, morphing from the H3N8 equine influenza virus. Researchers at the Nanjing Agricultural University in China note that this shift from equines to canines is rare as the virus tends not to spread between mammalian species.

Drs. Wanting He, Gairu Li, Ruyi Wang, Kemang Li, Shilei Wang, Shuo Su, Weifeng Shi and Alexander Lai used 44 whole-genome sequences of the H3N8 canine flu virus and determined that the virus swapped gene segments and emerged between 2002 and 2003. Based on their research, evidence indicates that this jump in species occurred in Florida—the same state where the H3N8 equine virus was first identified in 1963.

Since 2003, the canine form of the flu has changed multiple times and continues to spread. The researchers conclude that interspecies transmission of flu might happen more often than previously thought. They also note that as dogs have contact with multiple other species that their risk of generating a pandemic flu virus should not be overlooked.

Read more at HorseTalk. 

Read the full study here.

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