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Bird Flu Killing Greyhounds Throughout the United States?

Recombinomics Commentary

May 13, 2005

>>  The hardest hit has been Wonderland Greyhound Park, north of Boston, 16 of its dogs have died from the influenza-like illness since the beginning of May, and the track has suspended racing indefinitely and quarantined its 1,200 greyhounds.

According to Massachusetts officials, greyhound deaths have also been reported at racetracks in Colorado, Iowa and Rhode Island in the past month, while other states are seeing a outbreaks of nonfatal cases......

According to Sally Prickett, a state veterinarian, several greyhounds have died at Bluffs Run racetrack in Council Bluffs, Iowa, she is waiting for lab results.

Kennel cough usually hits younger dogs because their immune systems are weaker, but she says this disease is striking older dogs, and appears more serious. <<

The fatalities in greyhounds this season appear to parallel the deaths in Florida last year, but the scope of the infections is markedly greater this season.  Last season dog racing tracks were closed in Florida, but this season the closings are nationwide and the number of fatal infections has increased markedly.

Last season H3N8 avian influenza was isolated in Florida.  This was the first reported isolation of influenza virus from dogs.  H3N8 has been previously associated with equine influenza.  There have been H3N8 outbreaks in horses in Florida, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, which may be related to the outbreak in racing dogs.

The widespread nature of this season's outbreak indicates this year's etiological agent is quite infectious.  Although the H3 in H3N8 isolates is distinguishable from H3 in human H3N2 isolates, a highly infectious fatal avian influenza that affects mammals is cause for concern.  Recent false negatives for H5N1 in Vietnam and WSN/33 H1N1 in Korea raise serious avian influenza monitoring issues.

Testing of the greyhounds for influenza A could answer questions concerning the mysterious deaths of greyhounds throughout the United States.

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