Findings from a new study imply that dogs could act as mixing vessels in which novel influenza viruses with pandemic potential could emerge.
The study, “Infection and pathogenesis of canine, equine and human influenza viruses in canine tracheas,” appeared online ahead of the August print edition of the Journal of Virology.
Canine influenza virus appears to have originated as a result of the transfer of an equine influenza virus into Greyhounds in the early 2000s. The investigators found that infection of canine tracheal cultures with equine influenza virus from 2003 caused an infection much like that from canine influenza virus in terms of the 2003 equine influenza virus’ rate of replication and extensive tissue damage. Equine influenza viruses from 1963 replicated poorly and caused relatively minor lesions in comparison with the 2003 equine influenza virus.
The investigators also found that chimeric viruses carrying genes from human and canine influenza viruses can infect canine tracheal cultures. Research is under way to determine whether the chimeric viruses could infect human lungs.