Pets Could Cause a New Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC – June 7, 2018
The results of a recent study, published in the "mBio" edition, confirmed that that the evolution of canine influenza viruses (CIVs) in Asian dogs is increasingly complex, presenting a potential threat to humans.
The capacity of influenza A viruses (IAVs) to host jump from animal reservoir species to humans presents an ongoing pandemic threat. Birds and swine are considered significant reservoirs of viral genetic diversity, whereas equines and canines have historically been restricted to one or two stable IAV lineages with no transmission to humans.
A team of scientists in southern China conducted research, where it identified 16 different strains of the influenza virus. Some of them contain elements of the pandemic H1N1 virus responsible for the outbreak of swine flu in 2009 when many people died. “Furthermore, the swine-origin H1N1 viruses have transmitted onward in canines and reassorted with the CIV-H3N2 viruses that circulate endemically in Asian dogs, producing three novel reassortant CIV genotypes (H1N1r, H1N2r, and H3N2r [r stands for reassortant]). CIVs from this study were collected primarily from pet dogs presenting with respiratory symptoms at veterinary clinics, but dogs in Guangxi are also raised for meat, and street dogs roam freely, creating a more complex ecosystem for CIV transmission.”
Mammals have emerged as critically under recognized sources of influenza virus diversity, including pigs that were the source of the 2009 pandemic and bats and bovines that harbor highly divergent viral lineages. Two reassortant IAVs were identified recently that host switched from swine to canines in southern China, including one virus with known zoonotic potential. Three additional genotypes were generated via reassortment events in canine hosts, demonstrating the capacity of dogs to serve as “mixing vessels.” The continued expansion of IAV diversity in canines with high human contact rates requires enhanced surveillance and ongoing evaluation of emerging pandemic threats.