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H5N1 Canine Deaths in Thailand

Recombinomics Commentary

October 10, 2004.

>>The health ministry said earlier today blood tests on dogs found dead in Prachin Buri province showed them to have been infected with H5N1. <<

The above seems to be a step beyond earlier reports, which indicated that one dog was positive for H5N1 (as confirmed by two labs in Thailand) and was still alive.  Now the infection appears to be fatal and involve additional dogs. 

The results however are not surprising.  Earlier this year, there was an outbreak of avian flu in dogs in Florida.

It was initially thought to be kennel cough and was apparently being passed from one dog to another.  Subsequently, H3N8 was isolated.  H3N8 is typically detected in horses and this was the first example of H3N8 in dogs.  However, some of the H5N1 isolates in Thailand contain polymorphisms found in H3N8, so infectious H5N1 in dogs in Thailand would not be a surprise.  However, if it is passed from dog to dog, it is another cause for concern because the H5N1 circulating in Thailand generates a very high case fatality rate in humans and there is little difference between H5N1 isolated from birds and cats and H5N1 isolated from fatal human cases. 

Moreover, the Thai isolates have picked of polymorphisms usually found in mammalian isolates.

Recent media reports suggest that samples may have been mislabeled and the caninie result reported above my actually be the result from a fatal chicken infection..

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