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COLLEGE STATION, Sept. 27, 2005 - A new strain of flu-type virus
has been proven to pass from horses to dogs, a rarity in the animal
world - and it's been detected in Texas .
While it's not uncommon for a flu-type virus to hop from one
animal to another, such as several horses becoming infected from a
sick one while all are confined in a close environment, it is rare
that a disease is passed to a different species - such as a dog -
and cause for concern.
The virus - identified as H3N8, first discovered in Florida -
has been confirmed to being passed from horses to greyhounds,
killing some of the infected dogs at racetracks in several states,
according to results published in the current issue of
Texas A&M University graduate student Pamela Ferro, one of
the authors of the study, says there is no evidence yet of the
virus being passed to humans.
"The virus we identified originally started as a horse-type
flu," Ferro explains.
"But this is one of the first viruses of its type that we know
has been passed on to dogs. So yes, it is unusual and it is a
definite reason to be concerned, especially among dog breeders such
as those in the racing industry."
So far, the disease has been detected in Florida , Texas , Iowa
, Arizona , West Virginia , Wisconsin and Massachusetts , says the
Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC says that while the chance of human infection is very
low, the fatality rates for dogs that contract the disease can be
as high as 10 percent, an alarming number especially to those in
the racing industry where greyhounds have been particularly hit
"We identified the disease last year, and tests proved
conclusively this year that the disease is related to the equine
influenza strain," explains Ferro, a researcher in the Texas
Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.
"As you might expect, there are several groups trying hard right
now to develop a vaccine to fight it."
The disease often resembles "kennel cough," a common ailment
found in dogs housed in kennels and a cousin of the bacteria that
is often found in whooping cough in children.
Because dogs don't have a natural immunity to the H3N8 virus,
researchers believe it is likely that more dogs will contract the
disease, which is highly contagious.
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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