In Florida, racing greyhounds are coming down with the same flu virus that affects race horses, even though they don’t race on the same tracks. We know that “bird flu” jumps from chickens to humans and SARS jumped to us from civet cats. While monkeys pass HIV to humans, they get it from another, unknown source. However, this is the first known incidence of flu jumping from one animal species to another.

“I want to stress that our team’s findings are preliminary and confined to the dogs affected by an outbreak at one Florida track, an outbreak that occurred three months ago and was contained through a voluntary statewide quarantine, which is no longer in effect,” says veterinarian Cynda Crawford. “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that these findings extend beyond this group of dogs affected during that period of time, or that it poses any significant threat to people or their pets.” Blood samples taken from other dogs, including other groups of greyhounds, tested negative for the virus.

Equine influenza is in the same group of viruses that cause flu in people, so it could have passed from horses to people, then on to dogs, but so far, there?s no evidence of this. The disease is present in horses in Europe, North America and parts of Asia.

The CDC found that the equine virus affecting the greyhounds was related to the equine influenza virus that appeared in horses in Wisconsin last year. Ruben Donis says, “The virus found in the canine samples is probably representative of the strain that is circulating now in horses in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.”

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