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New dangerous contagious dog flu virus detected
It is highly contagious, sometimes deadly and detected in 7 states (Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas and Iowa). Scientists believe that it mutated from an influenza strain that affects horses.

Currently it 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. 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.

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.

Source: DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. and CARIN RUBENSTEINA: New Deadly, Contagious Dog Flu Virus Is Detected in 7 States. In: New York Times September 22, 2005




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SMALL ANIMAL PRACTICE

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