Fatal avian influenza in a dog is the subject of a dispatch from Thailand appearing in the November issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
In October 2004, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Kasetsart University received the body of a dog for necropsy. The owner said the dog had eaten duck carcasses from an area with reports of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 infections in ducks. The dog developed high fever, panting, and lethargy about five days after eating the ducks and died the following day.
Case reports and research have provided evidence that H5N1 avian influenza can cross species barriers to infect cats as well as humans. Domestic cats and tigers have contracted the H5N1 virus after eating poultry harboring HPAI. Earlier this year, Germany reported fatal avian influenza in domestic cats (see JAVMA, April 15, 2006, page 1165). In Asia, large cats in captivity have died of the disease.
Genetic comparison indicated that the dog isolate of the H5N1 virus was similar to the viruses that researchers recovered from a tiger in Thailand during a mid-2004 outbreak.
The authors conclude that, like cats, dogs are at risk for H5N1 infection. They add that the possibility of humans acquiring the H5N1 virus from contact with cats or dogs is a cause for concern and highlights the need to monitor domestic animals during future outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza.