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Dog flu strains a ‘potential risk’ to humans
A study in Chinese pet dogs identified a new influenza strain.
Study identifies influenza viruses jumping from pigs to dogs

A study by US scientists has revealed that influenza is becoming increasingly diverse in dogs and could present a risk to humans.

The research, published in the journal mBio, found a number of influenza viruses in dogs that had originally come from pigs and that they are starting to interact with each other.

“This is very reminiscent of what happened in swine ten years before the H1N1 pandemic,” the authors note.

In the study, researchers sequenced the complete genomes of 16 influenza viruses obtained from pet dogs in China. They found that the genomes contained three lineages that circulate in pigs - H3N2, H3N8 and a new strain, H1N1.

Scientists said that the new virus is of avian origin and therefore different antigenically from the H1N1s seen in the 2009 pandemic, and of different origin to that previously found in humans.

Work is now underway to further characterise the virus and assess whether humans have existing immunity against canine H1N1.

“If there is a lot of immunity against these viruses, they will represent less of a risk, but we now have one more host in which influenza virus is starting to have a diverse genotypic and phenotypic characteristics, creating diversity in a host which is in very close contact to humans,” said Dr. García-Sastre, director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute.

“The diversity in dogs has increased so much now that the type of combinations of viruses that can be created in dogs represent potential risk for a virus to jump to a dog into a human.”

Researchers say that the time has come to restrict the circulation of avian influenza in dogs. The US and the UK targets avian influenza by culling and eliminating poultry from circulation.

“There are attempts to restrict influenza virus in pigs through vaccination and one could consider vaccination for dogs,” said Dr García-Sastre. 


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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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News Shorts
BSAVA announces winner of 2019 Bourgelat Award

One of the world’s leading small animal medicine specialists is set to receive the prestigious Bourgelat Award at BSAVA Congress 2019.

Professor Mike Herrtage will be recognised for his major research into metabolic and endocrine diseases, including diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.

During his career, Prof Herrtage has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and written more than 200 other publications such as abstracts, books and chapters. He also continues to be a source of inspiration for thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary surgeons.