Monday, 18 June, 2018

What Is Dog Flu And How Can It Affect Humans?

Dogs in Southern China Host Several Strains of Flu 'Dog Flu' Could Be The Newest Form Of The Influenza Virus, According To Recent Health Study
Celia Hoffman | 08 June, 2018, 14:17

Now, man's best friend could unleash a new form of the flu.

"This significantly increases the likelihood that the virus learns how to infect humans are adapting to the new breeds of dogs", says the study's lead author, Adolfo Garcia-Sastre from medical school mount Sinai hospital in NY. These developments match the build-up to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, which originated in birds.

"The majority of pandemics have been associated with pigs as an intermediate host between avian viruses and human hosts", says one of the researchers, Adolfo García-Sastre, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai in NY. "In this study, we identified influenza viruses jumping from pigs into dogs", said study investigator Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, Xinhua reported.

Fifteen years ago, researchers found that a flu virus in a horse infected a dog, leading to the first circulating flu viruses in dogs. Five years ago, scientists uncovered viruses jumping between birds and dogs. Now it seems we can add pigs to that list, and the timeline shows this is all happening relatively quickly.

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Bird and swine are major reservoirs of viral genetic diversity, and equines and canines have historically been restricted to one or two stable influenza A viruses lineages with no or very limited transmission to human. They also found three new canine influenza viruses (CIVs) that were created after swine flu viruses mixed with dog flu viruses.

The viruses in the study were collected primarily from pet dogs presenting with respiratory symptoms at veterinary clinics.

"In our study, what we have found is another set of viruses that come from swine that are originally avian in origin, and now they are jumping into dogs and have been reassorted with other viruses in dogs", García-Sastre explains.

Although experts are convinced dogs - like pigs - can be vaccinated rather than exterminated, the scientists who discovered the flu viruses that jump the species barrier are warning they have real potential for having a catastrophic impact on humanity. It was a totally new strain to which humans had not had the chance to develop any immunity against. That all spells trouble for humans, because they spend so much time in close quarters with their pups, the researchers noted. They, in turn, can infect humans. With that in mind, the research team is calling for steps to be taken to restrict the spread of flu viruses between dogs, with vaccination programmes one of the options to consider. That being said, there is no reason to panic yet - especially considering that the dogs included in the study were sampled from a single region of China. "This increases the potential threat to dogs, which become a kind of "mixing vessels" for the emergence of new virus strains which could in the future spread to people", said Jonathan ball. Still, the researchers are advising caution. "This is very reminiscent of what happened in swine 10 years before the H1N1 pandemic", Garcia-Sastre said.

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