View Full Version : New Deadly Contagious Dog Flu Virus Detected in 7 States

09-21-2005, 11:03 PM
A New Deadly, Contagious Dog Flu Virus Is Detected in 7 States

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. and CARIN RUBENSTEIN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=CARIN RUBENSTEIN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=CARIN RUBENSTEIN&inline=nyt-per)
Published: September 22, 2005

A new, highly contagious and sometimes deadly canine flu is spreading in kennels and at dog tracks around the country, veterinarians said yesterday
The virus, which scientists say mutated from an influenza strain that affects horses, has killed racing greyhounds in seven states and has been found in shelters and pet shops in many places, including the New York suburbs, though the extent of its spread is unknown.

Dr. Cynda Crawford, an immunologist at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine who is studying the virus, said that it spread most easily where dogs were housed together but that it could also be passed on the street, in dog runs or even by a human transferring it from one dog to another. Kennel workers have carried the virus home with them, she said.

How many dogs die from the virus is unclear, but scientists said the fatality rate is more than 1 percent and could be as high as 10 percent among puppies and older dogs.

Dr. Crawford first began investigating greyhound deaths in January 2004 at a racetrack in Jacksonville, Fla., where 8 of the 24 greyhounds who contracted the virus died.

"This is a newly emerging pathogen," she said, "and we have very little information to make predictions about it. But I think the fatality rate is between 1 and 10 percent."

She added that because dogs had no natural immunity to the virus, virtually every animal exposed would be infected. About 80 percent of dogs that are infected with the virus will develop symptoms, Dr. Crawford said. She added that the symptoms were often mistaken for "kennel cough," a common canine illness that is caused by the bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria.

Both diseases can cause coughing and gagging for up to three weeks, but dogs with canine flu may spike fevers as high as 106 degrees and have runny noses. A few will develop pneumonia, and some of those cases will be fatal. Antibiotics and fluid cut the pneumonia fatality rate, Dr. Crawford said.

The virus is an H3N8 flu closely related to an equine flu strain. It is not related to typical human flus or to the H5N1 avian flu that has killed about 100 people in Asia.

Experts said there were no known cases of the canine flu infecting humans. "The risk of that is low, but we are keeping an eye on it," said Dr. Ruben Donis, chief of molecular genetics for the influenza branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is tracking the illness.

But with the approach of the human flu season and fears about bird flu in Asia, there is much confusion among some dog owners who have heard about the disease.

Dr. Crawford said she was fielding calls from kennels and veterinarians across the country worried that they were having outbreaks.

"The hysteria out there is unbelievable, and the misinformation is incredible," said Dr. Ann E. Hohenhaus, chief of medicine at the Animal Medical Center in New York.

Dr. Hohenhaus said she had heard of an alert from a Virginia dog club reporting rumors that 10,000 show dogs had died.

"We don't believe that's true," she said, adding that no dogs in her Manhattan hospital even had coughs.

Dr. Donis of the disease control centers said that there was currently no vaccine for the canine flu. But he said one would be relatively easy to develop. The canine flu is less lethal than parvovirus, which typically kills puppies but can be prevented by routine vaccination.

Laboratory tests, Dr. Donis said, have shown that the new flu is susceptible to the two most common antiviral drugs, amantidine and Tamiflu, but those drugs are not licensed for use in dogs.

The flu has killed greyhounds at tracks in Florida (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/florida/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), Massachusetts (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/massachusetts/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), Arizona (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/arizona/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), West Virginia (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/westvirginia/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), Wisconsin (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/wisconsin/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), Texas (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/texas/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and Iowa (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/iowa/index.html?inline=nyt-geo). Tracks and kennels have been forced to shut down for weeks for disinfection.

In Chestnut Ridge, north of New York City, about 88 dogs became sick by early September, and 15 percent of those required hospitalization, said Debra Bennetts, a spokeswoman for Best Friends Pet Care, a chain of boarding kennels. The kennel was vacated for decontamination by Sept. 17.

About 17 of the infected dogs were treated at the Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, N.J., where one died and two more were still hospitalized, a staff veterinarian said.

The Best Friends chain owns 41 other kennels in 18 states, and no others have had an outbreak, Dr. Larry J. Nieman, the company's veterinarian, said.

In late July, at Gracelane Kennels in Ossining, N.Y., about 35 dogs showed symptoms, said the owner, Bob Gatti, and he closed the kennel for three weeks to disinfect.

About 25 of the dogs were treated by an Ossining veterinarian, Glenn M. Zeitz, who said two of them had died.

"The dogs came in very sick, with high fevers and very high white blood cell counts," Dr. Zeitz said, making him suspicious that they had something worse than kennel cough.

A spokesman for the New York City Health Department said that there were "a few confirmed cases" in New York but that the city was not yet tracking the disease.

Veterinarians voluntarily sent samples to the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, which was the only laboratory doing blood tests


09-22-2005, 03:01 AM
Dr. Donis of the disease control centers said that there was currently no vaccine for the canine flu. But he said one would be relatively easy to develop.

So......develop it!! :wtf
I want my furbabies protected!

09-22-2005, 05:12 PM
OMG that is scarey!! I`m glad I don`t live in America right now, I`d be terrified to let my babies out of my sight.

09-23-2005, 10:59 AM
So......develop it!! :wtf
I want my furbabies protected!
I am with you. glad that we do not take sidney out very much but why are they waiting. I mean how many dogs have to die? I watched as our last dog died of liver cancer and then the dog before that died of a weak heart, but sidney is only 19 months and I do not want to lose my little one. :ohwell

guess we will not be taking him back out walking in the parks around here anytime soon. it has been a couple of weeks since we have and he loved it so much, but I want to keep him safe.

have they said if it transfers to kitties?

09-23-2005, 10:45 PM
Some zoos are reporting strange deaths of animals? I wonder if the two can be related?

Sounds as though it has been around for some time? A lot of Vets, probably treat for kennel cough first?

Just too many invasive spesis, to cause problems like this. I hope a cure is found soon. These things can spread so fast.

09-26-2005, 03:07 PM
Updated: 04:45 PM EDT
Mysterious Racetrack Disease Is Flu Strain, Report Says


WASHINGTON (Sept. 26) - A puzzling outbreak of respiratory disease in dogs has been tracked to a virus that has infected horses for decades - a transfer researchers say is rarely seen.

The illness first drew attention sweeping through kennels of racing greyhounds in several states and has also been found in household dogs in some states.

The flu kills between 5 percent and 8 percent of infected dogs, Dr. Cynda Crawford of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine said at a briefing Monday. Some dogs get a cough, runny nose and fever while others show no symptoms at all.

The flu can cause symptoms similar to the common illness known as kennel cough, Crawford said. But kennel cough is usually caused by a bacteria while the new illness is caused by a virus.

Dr. Brad Fenwick, vice president for research at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, said he thinks mortality from this flu is even less than estimated by Crawford. If infected dogs are treated, mortality can be much lower, Fenwick said in a telephone interview.

While the new virus is easily transferred between dogs, Crawford said people should not panic.

Owners of dogs that have a respiratory infection should keep the animal home for at least two weeks, she said.

Asked if dog owners should avoid kennels or other activities, Crawford said she plans to continue boarding her dogs when needed, walking them in areas with other dogs and entering them at dog shows.

Fenwick agreed, adding that people should not use vaccines intended for horses on their dogs because the safety of the vaccines hasn't been tested in canines.

As for transmission to people, Crawford noted that the strain of flu has been known in horses for more than 40 years and there have been no documented cases of it moving to people.

Nonetheless, Dr. Nina Marano of the Centers for Disease Control said the agency will monitor human exposure to the virus.

Dr. Ruben Donis of the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta called the transfer of a virus from horses to dogs "a very rare event of considerable scientific interest with regards to understanding influenza virus transmission across species."

Donis said the researchers have identified between eight and 10 genetic changes between the virus in horses and dogs, and they speculate that these changes affect the ability of the virus to attach to receptors on cells.

The findings of the research team led by Donis were published online by the journal Science.

He said the research began in Florida and has since traced the virus to dog tracks in other states and to pets in Florida and New York and possibly Massachusetts.

Fenwick, who was not part of the research team, said it is not clear whether the transfer occurred first from horses to the racing greyhounds or to house pets.

There are a lot more pet dogs around horses than racing dogs, he noted. The fact that it was first diagnosed in greyhounds could be because it spread to several animals in kennels where veterinarians were called in to treat the dogs. Since mortality is so low it may have gone largely unnoticed in pets, he suggested.

The published paper reported respiratory disease outbreaks in from June to August 2004 at dog tracks in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia and Kansas. From January to May 2005 outbreaks were reported at dog tracks in Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, West Virginia, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The research was funded by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering of the State of Florida.

AP-ES-09-26-05 1609EDT