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Deadly Dog Flu Spreads

So far the virus has led to the death of one dog last week, closed down the kennel at Virginia’s Fairfax County Animal Shelter, and, according to experts, is now affecting dogs in at least four other states: Colorado, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

While the reason for the shelter outbreak, which killed a 15-year-old whippet owned by a clinical technician and sickened 26 dogs, remains unknown, it’s possible that one or more infected dogs from Philadelphia or D.C. introduced the illness to Virginia.

“Dogs often move in and out of shelter systems over long distances, such as via breed and rescue groups,” Edward Dubovi, director of the virology center at Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, told Discovery News.

“Boarding kennels and even elite doggie day care centers can also result in cases, since, as for kennel cough spread, the virus is highly contagious and dogs may catch it from one another,” added Dubovi.

He first isolated the canine influenza virus in 2004, after University of Florida researchers sent him fluid and tissue samples from greyhound race dogs that had died from a then mysterious respiratory illness at a Florida racetrack.

Dubovi and his team determined the cause was the H3N8 equine flu virus, which jumped from horses to dogs. In addition to spreading from dog to dog, canines can also catch it from humans, who may have come into contact with infected animals.

The illness has not yet sickened any people. *Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

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