New Canine Flu Is Spreading Across The U.S.

Published: Sep 23, 2005

A new, highly contagious and sometimes deadly canine flu is striking kennels and dog tracks around the country, veterinarians said Wednesday. The virus — which scientists say mutated from an influenza strain that affects horses — has killed racing greyhounds in seven states and has been found in shelters and pet shops, though the extent of its spread is unknown. Dr. Cynda Crawford, an immunologist at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine who is studying the virus, said it spreads most easily where dogs are housed together, but it can be passed on the street, in dog runs or even by a human transferring it from one dog to another. Kennel workers have carried the virus home with them, she said. How many dogs die from the virus is unclear, but scientists said the fatality rate is more than 1 percent and could be as high as 10 percent among puppies and older dogs. Crawford first began investigating greyhound deaths at a racetrack in Jacksonville, Fla., in January 2004, where eight of the 24 greyhounds who contracted the virus died.

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