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Researcher Learns How Equine Influenza Spreads to Dogs

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Since 2004, when an equine influenza virus jumped the species barrier from horses to dogs, canine influenza has quickly spread throughout the American dog population and has become an emerging threat to dogs. Influenza viruses stemming from other species have sparked severe disease outbreaks in the past and are likely to do so again, so it is critical to understand the epidemiologic and molecular mechanisms that allow influenza A viruses to cross the species barrier. This study investigated how an equine influenza virus jumped from horses to infect dogs. Researchers found that, in terms of the types of cell surface molecules that influenza virus attaches to, the dog and horse airways are virtually identical. These findings indicate that the barrier for equine viruses to jump to dogs is not as difficult to overcome as previously thought. As such, equine viruses may continue to threaten the health of dogs. Although the emergence of canine influenza virus has raised concerns regarding the potential for the virus to transmit from dogs to humans, this study indicates that the scenario isn’t likely at this time. Information from this study will be vital for identifying antiviral drugs to combat influenza viruses and for developing canine influenza vaccines to protect dogs.


Posted by MAFon April 6, 2010.

Categories: Animal health, Dog diseases, Dog health, Equine health, Horse diseases

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