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Dogs carry a surprising variety of flu viruses

There’s no evidence yet that the canine pathogens infect people

By
2:37pm, June 5, 2018
dog

DOGGING IT  Some dogs in southern China carry flu viruses originally transmitted from pigs. The viruses probably spread most easily where animals are crowded, such as shelters, farms and markets.

Some dogs in China carry a mixed bag of influenza viruses. The discovery raises the possibility that dogs may be able to pass the flu to people, perhaps setting off a pandemic.

About 15 percent of pet dogs that went to the vet because of respiratory infections carried flu viruses often found in pigs, researchers report June 5 in mBio. Of the virus strains detected, three have recombined in dogs to form new varieties.

That mixing generates genetic diversity in the viruses that makes them potentially a pandemic threat, says study coauthor Adolfo García-Sastre, a virologist who directs the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Evolution of the flu viruses in dogs has been very rapid, occurring in just a few years, García-Sastre says. There’s no sign yet that the dog flu viruses can infect people, but that could change. &ldquo

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