Bird Flu, Swine Flu…And Now Dog Flu

No joke: Greyhounds are dying at racetracks in Florida, and it’s possible that it may spread:

The devastating and shadowy malady that is claiming the lives of greyhounds at Revere’s Wonderland racetrack may have even deadlier ambitions: lovable Fido and perhaps even his master.

The federal government’s top scientists are exploring whether a deadly dog flu that has ripped through greyhound tracks across the country – and is suspected in Massachusetts – could leap to humans. The strain of canine influenza has already popped up in other dogs in animal shelters aroundthe country.

“Obviously, there is nothing to stop it from going from greyhounds to terriers or shepherds,” said Ruben Donis, chief of the molecular genetics section of the influenza branch of the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. “Humans, we can’t say anything at this point,” Donis said.

There is little the typical dog-owning family can do to protect its pet, experts said. Instead, the onus is on greyhound handlers to follow strict hygiene protocols so the virus that has devastated racers doesn’t jump to the general dog population.

Why is this important–beside the fact that dogs are just about the greatest of God’s creations? Dr. Henry Niman points out a parallel between the spring of 2005 and the spring of 1918:

Atypical influenza outbreaks in the spring of 1918 preceded the deadly pandemic outbreak in the fall. The signs of unusual spring influenza activity appear to be erupting worldwide in the northern hemisphere.

Let’s hope that the doctor’s observation is just coincidence.

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2 responses to “Bird Flu, Swine Flu…And Now Dog Flu

  1. I lost a 2.5 year old, perfectly healthy standard poodle to this on August 29th 2005. He was in a kennel upstate New York. This has already leaped from greyhound tracks and is in NE Kennels. The owner of the kennel also feels several people working there may have contracted something during the outbreak, but not with fatal effects. The CDC is interested enough to send investigators. It is not an internet urban rumor, it is really happening. The disease has a 1 to 10 % fatality among dogs. Can you imagine if this were people!!

  2. Susan, I’m sorry to hear about your loss. We have three dogs, two of which are over 13 years old. Losing any of them will be painful.

    This is cause for concern. The CDC is on site? We need to remember that the case fatality rate for Spanish flu in 1918, which killed about 50 million people, was about 2.5%.

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