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Study: New flu viruses could be transmitted from dogs to humans
A long-term study suggests that two strains of influenza can mix and form a new flu virus that can spread to dogs. The viruses could also be transmitted from animals to humans.
Novel influenza strain
Last year, a study by American scientists was published in the specialist magazine "mBio", which indicated a possible transmission of canine flu viruses to humans. Now researchers from South Korea are also reporting that a new type of influenza could be transmitted from pets like dogs to humans.
Pathogens could also be dangerous for humans
The results of a 10-year study indicate that two strains of influenza can mix and form a dangerous new influenza strain that is spread among other things by dogs, reports the "Microbiology Society" in a message.
As it goes on to say, it was discovered in the 2000s that H3N2 avian influenza passed on to dogs and developed into the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV).
The research of the team around Dr. Daesub Song from Korea University in Seoul (South Korea) showed that the H3N2-CIV can form a new influenza virus with the swine flu virus H1N1 / 2009.
This pathogen called CIVmv could also be dangerous for humans.
Extremely fast spreading possible
The emergence of new strains of influenza is worrying. As stated in the Microbiology Society's announcement, the infected have not previously been exposed to a virus of this type, which means that they are not immune to the disease.
If the virus could be transmitted from animals to humans, it could spread extremely quickly in the population.
The South Korean scientists wanted to know how great the potential of the new tribe is to jump onto humans.
In order to find out, they also carried out tests with ferrets, since the receptors on whose surface flu viruses dock are very similar in these animals and humans.
Ferrets are therefore considered a reliable experimental model for risk assessment.
Typical symptoms of a respiratory illness
In their experiments, the researchers found that the dogs and ferrets infected with the new CIVmv strain had typical symptoms of a respiratory disease.
The animals therefore experienced constipation, shortness of breath, cough, watery eyes, sneezing, lethargy and loss of appetite.
In addition, the new pathogen was found to spread faster between ferrets than other influenza viruses and to replicate quickly.
According to the study authors, the risk of infection from humans with this pathogen strain could be far greater than with the previous avian and dog flu viruses.
Stronger surveillance of pets
Dr. Daesub Song has called for increased surveillance of dogs and other pets as they could be a source of novel human strains of influenza.
"So far, dogs have been neglected in flu research as hosts of new strains of pathogens," said the researcher.
However, not only dogs are considered as carriers. During the ten-year study, the scientists found that cats are also susceptible to the virus.
Dr. Song investigated an outbreak of CIV in a shelter where 100 percent of the cats were infected and 40 percent died.
The development of susceptibility in cats is worrying as it shows that CIV can spread among different animal species.
Because humans come into contact with both dogs and cats much more often than with chickens or pigs, the potential risk is that new strains will emerge from the four-legged friends that infect humans and may one day even be transmitted from person to person. much larger.
"Existing dog flu viruses could mix with human influenza viruses or form new ones and lead to new viruses, which in turn can lead to unique pandemics," said Dr. Song.
Development of a vaccine
However, other experts are a little less worried. This is how animal influenza expert Dr. Janet Daly of the University of Nottingham, according to a Tech Times portal post, says there is little chance that dogs can spread a dog virus to humans.
But it was still a possibility. "We need to watch out for cases where both a dog and its owner have flu-like symptoms," said Daly.
The Korean researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against the CIVmv strain, but this is very difficult due to the high mutation rate. (ad)