I admit, I spend a lot of time trolling the internet. I've given up counting the number of chat groups, e-newsletters and Google alerts that I have and truthfully many of the emails I get after a quick scan just get deleted, but how else is a girl to keep on top of the trends and hot topics in infection prevention and chemical disinfection? I'm certainly no computer whiz, but after last week and learning about "Twitterbots" I wish I were! For now, I'll just have to be my own Internet and Twitterbot and as luck would have it this week I found a gem....well at least to me.
The majority of our blogs tend to focus on human health topics, but I do spend a significant amount of time understanding the biosecurity (aka infection prevention) needs for animal health. Several years ago, I wrote a an article on Equine (Horse) Influenza (EI) for Horse Canada - What to do to stop the Flu. Similar to the impact Influenza can have on our communities, EI can devastate a barn. In fact EI is so contagious that there is a near 100% infection rate in un-vaccinated horses and, like many diseases, the young and old are at greater risk of complications. The similarity does not stop there. EI is transmitted via aerosolized respiratory secretions. In case you didn't know, horses can cough and snort just as well as any human. In fact having been on the receiving end, I would say horses snorts (sneezes) can travel far greater distances and eject far larger volumes of snot. I'm pretty sure it has to do with the size of their nostrils. EI is also transmitted via contact with contaminated surfaces including tack, brushes or feed buckets and also from people who travel from barn to barn.
The gem I found this week was an article published in Emerging Infectious Diseases titled "Equine Influenza A(H3N8) Virus Infection in Cats". For those not in the know, horses, dogs and cats are interrelated. Horse owners often own dogs. Horses live in barns/stables and barn cats are usually kept to keep the rodent population down! Using data supporting the fact that EI has been found to infect dogs and the fact that the during the 2003–2004 outbreak of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in Asia, infections in cats was reported the researchers hypothesized that EI infection in cats could occur. The study experimentally infected 14 cats with the equine influenza A (H3N8) virus. All showed clinical signs, shed virus, and transmitted the virus to a contact cohort.
The fact that the cats were susceptible to EI by direct inoculation was not surprising because infection of cats with various influenza A viruses has been reported, however, it continues to highlight the ability of influenza to adapt and transmit between different species and highlights the fact that we never know where the next influenza pandemic may come from. Will it be our beloved cat, dog or horse? In the meantime, keep yourself and your pets vaccinated and maintain a healthy environment by cleaning and disinfecting on a regular basis.