"This infection will become a major concern for all dog owners, since 100 percent of dogs are susceptible to infection by this virus ," said Dubovi. "With 50 million pet dogs in this country, even if you have 1 percent mortality, this is going to result in a number of dogs dying from it."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta sequenced the virus' entire genome and found all the segments were from the equine virus. This is unusual, because flu viruses will often swap genetic material with other flu viruses when they jump species. For a new virus to enter another species it must overcome a number of barriers, such as finding a cell receptor to bind to in order to enter the cell and to reproduce sufficiently in the new host.
"There are probably many examples of viruses jumping species, but then it becomes a dead-end issue," said Dubovi. Researchers have long known that equine flu was capable of growing in dogs, since scientists experimenting with equine influenza use cell lines from canine kidney cells.
When Dubovi first received the University of Florida samples, he and his colleagues isolated a virus and determined that it was an influenza not typically found in dogs. The next step was to test to see if it was an avian flu virus, like the virulent H5N1 that has jumped from birds to humans over the last few years. A highly sensitive test -- called a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) that amplifies and detects small amounts of DNA or RNA in a blood or tissue sample -- ruled out avian flu strains H5 and
Source:Cornell University News Service