Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Equine Influenza, Greyhounds and Bird Flu.


Things seem to be heating up on the Bird Flu front ( Great Britain) and (China) and it makes you wonder about the development of persistent cross species transfer. There has recently been a similar event seen in Florida where Equine Influenza has been linked to an outbreak of respiratory disease in Greyhounds ( here ). As is the concern in people with Bird Flu, the Greyhounds had no immunity to this virus, and it was severe. When there is no antibody response to an infection it replicates unchecked through the body damaging any system it is geared to. Influenza is primarily a respiratory virus and replicates in bronchial and alveolar epithelium. When these cells are infected they become swollen and leak cellular fluid and eventually slough into the airway. This causes reduced oxygen exchange and excess fluid in the lungs making breathing difficult. Those that die essentially drown. Not a pretty picture. There have been cases where the current Bird flu
has been transfered to yet another species (cats and pigs ). With the current spread of the virus through Asia, it is reasonable to assume that ferrel cats could work as another vector if there eat infected wild birds. We currently know the virus can infect humans but as of yet no human to human transfer has developed. With these early signs of inter-species transfer we will have to watch closely for signs of human to human spread. This will most likely show up as a village
epidemic either in Asia or Africa.

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