Are you a dog lover? Do you cuddle, sleep, kiss or let your pooch lick you? I like dogs, but growing up on farm my definition of having a dog is opening the door to let him or her run out to do their business, roam around the farm for a bit and then open the door to let them back in when they barked. Living in a city with a busy schedule and a fair bit of travel means I’ve chosen cats over dogs. I can love them. I can feed them and I can leave them. Growing up on farm with dogs and a mom who was a nurse also meant that our dogs (and my brother and I) were taught not to lick. Dog kisses were not something that occurred in our house. Truth be told, Kahlua, the black lab we had for 16 years like to find carcasses of dead animals to roll in and chomp on and of course liked to play in the barn with the cows. You never knew what had been in her mouth before coming to say “Hi” and if you got close enough to her mouth you often found yourself gagging from what she had just gotten into…
But why the dog talk? Because I came across a study published in the journal of mBio that found that some dogs in China are carrying a potpourri of influenza viruses including swine, avian and canine flu viruses. Since we like to have “close” relationships with our canine babies, there is a potential that someday these viruses may jump to humans.
The researchers swabbed 800 ill dogs between 2013 and 2015 and found that 15% of the dogs had the flu. Shockingly, after the viruses were sequenced they found that 16 different strains of the flu were being carried by these dogs and some of them were in fact Swine influenza strains that had been detected in people in Europe and Asia. While there is no indication (at least at this point) that the flu can jump from your pooch to you, it doesn’t mean it’s out of the question. In fact, our close contact may have allowed for us to build immunity against dog flu, but that is yet to be seen.
What does this mean to us? Well, as I’ve mentioned in several past Talk Clean To Me blogs, don’t get your knickers in a knot over the particular strain of influenza. I’m not insinuating we need to down play influenza and the risk of transmission by any means. What I am saying is let’s be smart about influenza. This study shows dogs can carry pig flu, swine flu or bird flu. There are additional studies to show that some of the earlier canine flu outbreaks may have originated from Equine or horse flu. Influenza has been identified in all sorts of animals and of course people.
The good news is that regardless of the number of influenza A strains we come up against, based on available scientific information, and the fact there are over 500 EPA registered disinfectants with claims against various strains of Influenza A on the market if a new strain pops up we will be covered! The EPA’s emerging pathogens protocol proves that!