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Fundamental research

08 - 06 - 2018

Dogs are now associated with pandemic influenza risk

The discovery in China of new influenza viruses in dogs and the ability of these viruses to genetically recombine in this species make the dog a new player in the risk of an influenza pandemic.


The ability of the influenza virus to switch from mammalian reservoirs to humans is an ongoing risk of a pandemic. The pigs were the cause of the 2009 pandemic. This situation requires constant surveillance efforts by health institutions around the world.


Birds and pigs are considered classic reservoirs of the virus. Horses and dogs are historically considered with a reduced risk since they harbour some stable lines of influenza viruses that are safe for humans.


But it seems that the situation is changing. By sequencing viral genomes, a research team has just identified in dogs in China, two new influenza A viruses, one of which, H1N1, has a known zoonotic potential. They were pet dogs, farm animals and street dogs. These viruses have been introduced into the dog independently and came from pigs originally.


In addition, these researchers have shown that rearrangements of the viral genomes have occurred in these dogs creating new genetic reassortments that can increase the virulence of the viruses.


It is therefore now necessary to monitor dogs as part of the evaluation and prevention of the zoonotic and pandemic risk related to the influenza virus, especially since the dog is a widespread species that lives in contact with humans throughout the world.




Vaccination of dogs against influenza could become a hot topic.