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Media Briefing on Canine Influenza

Note: This is a verbatim transcript. There may be errors.

Monday, September 26, 2005
2:00 p.m.

- - -

OPERATOR: I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Tom Skinner, Public Affairs Specialist with the CDC. Please go ahead, sir.

MR. SKINNER: Thank you, Laura, and thank you all for joining us today for this call where we're going to discuss the publication of a Science Journal article, "Transmission of Equine Influenza Virus to Dogs."

With us today are four participants; all have played a very important role in the publication of this paper: Dr. Ruben Donis from, the Centers for Disease Control; Dr. Nina Marano from the Centers for Disease Control; Dr. Cynda Crawford from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine; and Dr. Ed Dubovi from Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostics Center.

What we're going to do is have Dr. Ruben Donis start first by providing a three- or four-minute overview of the paper, talk a little bit about how this pertains to human health.

We'll then have Dr. Cynda Crawford provide the big picture when it comes to veterinary medicine and the issue of equine influenza virus in dogs.

Then we'll turn the call over to Dr. Nina Marano here at the CDC who's going to speak a little bit about how CDC is reaching out to the veterinary community, and we'll also have Dr. Ed Dubovi be on the phone to answer questions that may come in.

So at this time, I'm going to turn this over to Dr. Donis, who's going to speak for three or four minutes.

Dr. Donis?

DR. DONIS: Okay. Thank you, Tom. Good afternoon, everyone.

I would like to start by summarizing what is the importance of the paper, which concerns a very rare event of considerable scientific interest with regards to understanding influenza virus transmission across species barriers. And that's something that is in everyone's mind these days for a variety of reasons that you're aware of.

The paper started with an investigation of an acute canine respiratory disease in the State of Florida, and that was being investigated by Dr. Cynda Crawford, and that was back in 2004. She collected samples from sick dogs that were sent to Dr. Ed Dubovi--can you hear me well?--Dr. Ed Dubovi at Cornell University.

Dr. Dubovi started the sort of generic protocol trying to identify the usual suspects. He failed to identify the usual pathogens associate with respiratory disease.

So after several trials, he came up with a very unusual and unexpected finding; that was a virus that he thought could be influenza virus.

That's when that specimen was sent to us at the CDC, and the Influenza Branch, and initially Dr. Sasha Klimov from the Influenza Branch identified this tentatively as an H-3 virus, similar, related to an equine virus.

From there, we performed nucleotide sequencing, and determined that the sequence of the virus corresponded to the H3 hemagglutinin and N8 neuraminidase subtype.

So that usually is the type of influenza that is most commonly found in horses. Therefore, at that time, we continued the investigations, in collaboration with Dr. Crawford and our colleagues at the Influenza Branch, and several other investigators from the University of Wisconsin, Auburn University, and we were able to document that these respiratory infections, which continued to occur, were not only happening in the State of Florida but we identified the infection in several other states in the United States.

Subsequently, we continued--most of the investigations, by the way, involved both molecular tools, serological tools, and epidemiological investigations. So it involved a large team of investigators with a multi-pronged approach. We were able to identify that the virus was also present in domestic pet dogs.

And that's important because initially the virus was identified in racing greyhounds, and there was some speculation that the virus was exclusively causing disease in greyhounds.

So we were able to document that the disease was also present in the domestic dog population, first in the State of Florida, and then in other states.

We found that the proportion of dogs that have fatal disease is very small. Some dogs have subclinical or inapparent infections and some have severe infections. But Dr. Crawford will expand on the clinical aspects of this.

So basically, to summarize, I wanted to say that the data indicates that the virus is being transmitted efficiently from dog to dog and this indicates that the equine virus was transmitted to dogs and is now well established in the dog population.

So what about the implications for public health? We must keep in mind that this H3N8 equine influenza virus has been in horses for over 40 years. In all these years, we have never been able to document and single case of human infection with this virus. So that is something that I want everybody to take note of so to dispel, you know, major panic. That's not to say that there isn't any risk. We are going to monitor all cases of possible human exposure, but, this point, there is no reason to panic.

The other thing that I wanted to point out is the fact that the virus is sensitive or it's predicted to be sensitive--it's sensitive in the lab, and it's predicted to be sensitive to antivirals in humans.

And so the other thing that I didn't point out I think is that this is a type A virus; that is, totally different from the type B influenza viruses.

So with that, I would like to close down and turn it over to the moderator.

MR. SKINNER: Thanks, Dr. Donis. Now, I'll turn the call over to Dr. Cynda Crawford from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, who will spend three or four minutes sort of giving us the big picture in regards to canine influenza in the veterinary community.

DR. CRAWFORD: Thank you. And I would like to underscore what Dr. Donis has already pointed out and on a couple of occasions that this is a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population. And we have managed to accumulate quite a lot of information on this new canine influenza virus over a relatively short period of time, and this was largely due to the multi-institutional collaborative work that has involved numerous people from the CDC Influenza Branch. I would like to thank Dr. Donis and Dr. Jackie Katz, and Dr. Alexander Klimov. And it involves colleagues at the University of Wisconsin's College of Veterinary Medicine and at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine, and, of course, Dr. Ed Dubovi at Cornell, who has been the biggest key I think in discovery of this new viral pathogen in the dog population.

And with regard to what veterinarians will be interested in knowing is that this virus can cause a respiratory disease that mimics a syndrome that we call kennel cough.

Now, kennel cough is just a syndrome, and it can be due to a myriad of infectious agents--bacteria as well as viruses. So the most common cause of kennel cough has been a bacterium called bordetella bronchiseptica and with information that we have to date, this still may be the most common cause of respiratory infection in dogs.

So the canine influenza virus is really the new kid on the block for veterinarians to consider in their differential diagnoses for kennel cough. They should consider canine influenza if a dog presents to them with a cough. They may have a nasal discharge and a fever also.

And because kennel cough really is an infectious disease, and it's a contagious disease regardless of the cause, whether it's bordetella bronchiseptica or canine influenza virus or other viruses, these dogs should be handled with some precautions, precautions that veterinarians normally use when they are treating a patient that has a potential infectious disease that is contagious to other dogs. So this type of precaution would involve the isolation of the respiratory disease or at least protection of other dogs in their clinics, while this particular dog with respiratory disease is undergoing diagnosis and treatment and potentially hospitalization.

I'll also stress that despite the rumors that are out on the Internet and other such sources, this disease is not as deadly as people want to make it. Although it's a new pathogen in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection based on our knowledge about the virus to date, about 80 percent of them will have a mild form of disease, just characterized by cough and maybe some nasal discharge that will resolve over time with appropriate therapy.

Only a minority of dogs, a small number of dogs, experience complications such as pneumonia, just like the humans infected with influenza, certain populations of humans are more prone to development of pneumonia. And it's a small number of humans compared to everyone else.

So that is the same with canine influenza virus. It's a small population of dogs that will develop complications, most likely bacterial complications and these dogs do need to be--have their treatment supervised by a veterinarian.

In addition, since not all dogs will show a clinical syndrome, showing that they have a respiratory infection, there is a minority that are infected with the virus, but will not show clinical signs to announce to everybody that “I am sick.” And it is very difficult to find these dogs in the dog population. And we're working on a more rapid means of identification.

And lastly, I want to emphasize most of all that this is not the deadly virus that certain sources have played it up to be.

We have a very low mortality rate. And this is a disease that I would characterize as one of high morbidity and low mortality. Thank you.

MR. SKINNER: Okay. Thank you, and now I'm going to turn the call over to Dr. Nina Marano, who's CDC's lead scientist for public health issues related to veterinary medicine, who will give you a brief overview of how we're reaching out to the veterinary community. Dr. Marano?

DR. MARANO: Thank you. We are working with four sets of key partners to help respond to questions about canine influenza. First and foremost is that we are working very closely with our colleagues who are on the call--Dr. Dubovi and Dr. Crawford at the University of Florida and at Cornell University--to understand how this newly emerging pathogen is affecting canine health and to seek their recommendations for management with veterinary clinics, advice for veterinarians, advice for people who run shelters, and, of course, for pet owners.

We also partner with the American Veterinary Medical Association, which is the organization that represents 70,000 practicing veterinarians in the United States; and with the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials, which are the state veterinarians in each state; and also with the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.

So we feel like we have a very good solid framework for coordination and for communication between these four sets of partners.

Right now, it certainly appears that canine influenza is restricted to the dog population, and we'll defer to our veterinary colleagues' expertise and for advice and recommendations for management in the dog population. And I wanted to reiterate what Dr. Donis said earlier in the call; that H3N8 has never infected humans; and that we will certainly monitor human exposure and we'll work closely with our key partners here to coordinate any messages to monitor this emerging pathogen.

That's really all I wanted to say. Thank you.

MR. SKINNER: Okay. Ms. Prull, I think we're ready for questions, and I understand there are a large number of reporters on the call, so we're going to restrict questions to just one question, so we can get through as many reporters' questions as possible.

So let's begin with question and answer, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. And at this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press star one on your touch tone phone. To withdraw your request, you may press star two.

One moment please for the first question.

Our first question comes from Randolph Schmid with The Associated Press.

MR. SCHMITT: Hello. Yes. Dr. Crawford mentioned several times it had a low mortality rate. High morbidity and low mortality. Can you give us any numbers of what the mortality rate is?

MR. SKINNER: Go ahead, Dr. Crawford.

DR. CRAWFORD: I also want to emphasize that we don't have all the answers to the questions just yet, and we are working diligently on defining this disease syndrome in the dog population, so we have a few numbers to work with, and we are accumulating more data very rapidly on a daily basis. So these numbers could change.

At this time, I think--and it's hard to get reports of dogs that die of pneumonia. And it is even harder to get reports of dogs that have died of pneumonia in terms of was the cause verified.

But in those dogs where the cause of death was verified by diagnostic testing, we are looking at on the order of five to eight percent.

MR. SKINNER: Okay. Next question please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jacob Goldstein with the Miami Herald.

MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yes. Hi. I saw a reference in the article to data collected from South Florida. I wonder if in that context or in any other for that matter you can talk at all to the extent to which this disease is present in South Florida.

MR. SKINNER: Dr. Crawford, do you want to take that question, please?

DR. CRAWFORD: We do not have any evidence that canine influenza virus was infecting the pet dog sector out of the greyhound racing industry until late this year, actually April to May 2005, when we began receiving samples for diagnostic testing from some shelters and boarding facilities, Humane Societies, and a few veterinary clinics that had dogs they thought may be candidates for infection with canine influenza virus.

So we are still accumulating samples on a daily basis to define the extent of canine influenza virus infection in dogs. But, yes, there have been some scientific evidence-based, verified occurrences of canine influenza in South Florida in shelters, boarding facilities and veterinary clinics.

MR. SKINNER: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Maggie Fox of Reuters, your line is now open.

MS. FOX: Can you tell us a little bit about the mechanism by which this virus changed so that it could infect dogs and then pass easily from dog to dog? And can you talk a little bit about some of the species barriers that exist in influenza viruses with an obvious eye to the avian influenza virus?

MR. SKINNER: I'll ask Dr. Donis here at CDC to answer that question.

DR. DONIS: We sequenced the hemagglutinin gene and we found depending on the isolate between eight and ten amino acid changes in the hemagglutinin. We speculate at this point because we haven't finished the research that these changes may affect the interaction of the virus with cellular receptors. In addition to that, there are changes in other genes which may affect other aspects of the interaction of the virus with the host and this is exactly the most important part of the study we believe from the perspective of understanding interspecies transmission.

So the answer to your question is we're working on it and I think that it is a very, very important point.

MR. SKINNER: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Daniel DeNoon with WebMD, your line is now open.

MR. DeNoon: Thank you. I'd like to ask if there is any work underway on a canine vaccine.

MR. SKINNER: Dr. Crawford, do you want to talk about that?

DR. CRAWFORD: Yes, there is work underway and has been for a few months now.

MR. SKINNER: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Rob Stein with The Washington Post, your line is now open.

MR. STEIN: Thank you very much. Could you tell us in how many states now been identified and which states they are and what indications do you have as to how quickly or rapidly it's spreading?

MR. SKINNER: I'll ask Dr. Donis to answer that question, and then if Dr. Crawford has something to add afterwards.

DR. DONIS: We have identified only one strain of the virus. As to how rapidly it's spreading, probably Dr. Crawford can probably address that.

DR. CRAWFORD: And I would like to do so in collaboration with Dr. Dubovi from Cornell's Animal Health Diagnostics Center because he has been also testing dogs.

I can speak for the State of Florida that so far from samples we've received to date that have been tested, we have documented the infection in dogs in Florida, and maybe Dr. Dubovi can expound on that.

DR. DUBOVI: From the samples we have available, we can absolutely document the infection in the New York City area, and there's other evidence to suggest that at least a dog that currently resides in Massachusetts was infected, but the question as to where it may have picked that infection up we really don't know.

So like I say, the coming week there are a number of samples flowing in from a number of these cases where there are suspected outbreaks, so that map should expand or at least be better detailed by the end of this week.

MR. SKINNER: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Lisa Krieger with The San Jose Mercury News, your line is now open.

MS. KRIEGER: Thank you. Just to follow-up on the previous question, could you address the issue of how rapid transmission is likely to happen? Given the behavior of other viruses of this type, should it be of national concern?

MR. SKINNER: Dr. Crawford has been involved in this for well over a year now looking at this. I'll ask her to answer that question.

MR. CRAWFORD: Maybe I can address it in this way. In terms of the rapidity of spread from one state where infection has been documented in dogs to other states, it would need to travel with the dog. So to spread from state to state would just depend on a dog's movements.

However, we don't know about states other than Florida, New York and possibly Massachusetts. We can't tell you at this time if this virus has actually been infecting dogs in the Midwest or western sectors of the country even before we documented it in Florida or New York. So I have received several phone calls from veterinarians from all over the country who think they have seen this type of clinical disease in their dogs that they are dealing with.

So at this time we cannot say with any accuracy whether this virus is restricted to New York, Florida and potentially Massachusetts or if it's in other sectors of the country and maybe in North America that we just don't know about because we haven't completed testing on samples that have been graciously submitted by veterinarians all over.

MR. SKINNER: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Amanda Spake with U.S. News and World Report, your line is now open.

MS. SPAKE: Thanks. Some of my questions have been answered, but in terms of the mortality rate, you said you think it's somewhere between 6 and 8 percent. But the first example you give in your paper of the January 2004 outbreak you have a case fatality rate of 36 percent. Could you possibly explain what the difference is here?

MR. SKINNER: Dr. Crawford?

DR. CRAWFORD: Yes. I think it's a numbers game. That first incident in January 2004 at a Florida greyhound race track was a very small outbreak largely because of the quick response of the track management in containing the dogs that were involved in the outbreak. Although a large number of dogs were infected, only a small number even had clinical signs.

I cannot speculate on why there was a higher mortality rate in that very, very small outbreak other than maybe it was just a matter of numbers. But as we've tracked canine influenza virus infection at racing greyhound tracks around the country, there are thousands of dogs that are infected but very, very few that actually succumb to a pneumonia-like syndrome. So if you test more and more dogs, your numbers will change in terms of numbers that get sick and numbers that have a fatal outcome.

I don't know if that's addressed your question or not, but I think it kind of may leave false impressions if you base morbidity and mortality rates on a single outbreak when that may have been the more unusual manifestation compared to larger populations or a larger number of dogs are followed.

MR. SKINNER: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Barbara Tunick from The Bark Magazine, your line is now open.

MS. TUNICK: Thank you very much. My question is regarding dog owners. Since many of the exposed dogs may not show symptoms, what precaution should dog owners take when they bring their dogs to the vet or groomers, the dog parks? Are there any kind of medical treatments or precautions available?

Secondly, the exposed dogs who do not show symptoms, will they eventually get sick and are they contagious to other dogs?

MR. SKINNER: Dr. Crawford, do you want to address that one?

DR. CRAWFORD: I can address that last part. I don't know if Dr. Marano would like to address the first part with regard to precautions taken on the part of the dog owners in terms of where do they take their dogs.

The ones that do not have clinical signs despite being infected by the virus really do not show clinical signs at any point. For some reason that we do not know, these dogs simply just do not get overtly sick. Are they contagious to other dogs? Yes, we believe they are.

Dr. Marano, do you want to address taking your dog to various places where other dogs congregate or would you like for me to?

DR. MARANO: I think it's important to take a common-sense approach from what Dr. Crawford told us earlier on the call, that there's evidence that there have been some occurrences in Florida and New York, possibly Massachusetts. So I don't think that there's any cause for panic. I think that owners should take reasonable precautions in terms of if it's possible, for instance, to--you know, if your dog is exhibiting any signs of a respiratory illness, you certainly want to get some advice from your veterinarian, and if you do present your dog to a veterinarian, you want to make sure your veterinarian knows whether your dog had been at a boarding kennel recently.

I would certainly make sure that you are using a boarding kennel, that you use one that is well-known to you, that you are familiar with, and I would continue to be alert to pronouncements that are coming out in terms of any outbreaks that are occurring in your area.

But I certainly would not be panicking at this point as far as we have to take the dog. In the absence of further communications about where this might be going next, I think it's just a time to be very watchful and alert and take a reasonable approach but certainly not to panic.

MODERATOR: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Helen Branswell with the Canadian Press, your line is now open.

MS. BRANSWELL: Thank you. Dr. Donis, you mentioned that this strain of influenza has been in horses for about 40 years and there's no evidence of people picking it up from horses, but as it moves into domestic dogs, the possibility of contact and reassortment, it would seem to me, would be a great deal higher if it moved into vast numbers of dogs than in horses. Is that the case?

And also, I'm wondering, the amino acid changes that you've noticed, can you predict from looking at them whether or not that would make this virus more or less likely to move into humans?

DR. DONIS: So that's a very good question. So basically the number of amino acid changes is still very small, so this virus is still very, very closely related to the equine virus, and so given the, quote, unquote, safety track record of the equine virus in humans, I think it would be a stretch to really raise the level of alarm in any way.

It may actually pose even a lesser risk for humans. So the bottom line is we don't know and the bottom line we'll investigate but basically there will be a surveillance plan and we will be following up the reports and investigate with our partners in the veterinary science and veterinary colleges, and we're taking it seriously but at this point there is no reason for alarm.

MODERATOR: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Erin Sikes with NBC, your line is now open.

MS. SIKES: Great. Actually, all my questions have been answered, so I'm good. Thanks.

OPERATOR: Thank you. We'll go on to the next question. Cindy Tamil with San Antonio Express News, your line is now open.

MS. TAMIL: Thank you. I think this has sort of been answered but I want to clarify it. People with dogs routinely take them in and get something called bordetella vaccine and I think what I'm hearing is that this bordetella vaccine that is now given is not necessarily any--that there's not gonna be any protection from that vaccine against this strain of flu. Is that known?

MODERATOR: Dr. Crawford, do you want to take a stab at that one?

DR. CRAWFORD: The most common cause that we know of, to date, for kennel cough, is bordetella bronchiseptica. And that is what is in the kennel cough vaccine, that most people do elect to have their dog vaccinated with, in particular, dogs that are being boarded or going to the groomer, are asked--the clients are asked to have those dogs vaccinated against kennel cough or bordetella bronchiseptica, and in addition, parainfluenza virus, which is quite different from influenza virus. But there is no protection afforded by the kennel cough vaccine against influenza virus. Just bordetella and parainfluenza virus. Does that clarify your question?

MS. TAMIL: I think so. I had forgotten about the parainfluenza. I guess basically people who give their dogs these shots should not expect that these shots are going to protect their dogs from this new strain that's out there.

DR. CRAWFORD: No, there won't be any cross-protection afforded by that vaccine. However, I do urge them to keep their kennel cough vaccines updated because, once again, it may be that bordetella bronchiseptica and/or parainfluenza virus may turn out to be the more common causes of kennel cough until we know a little bit more about the pervasiveness of canine influenza virus in the pet dog population.

MODERATOR: Before we go to the next question, one thing that hasn't been really discussed that's important are some of the circumstances around Dr. Dubovi's discovery of this virus, and I was just hoping he could take a minute or two to elaborate on that.

DR. DUBOVI: In terms of circumstances, I think that the issue of this particular case sort of points out, I think from my perspective, what a number of us have been saying for a number of years, is that there's a tremendous need out there within the, particularly the animal populations and pet populations for a surveillance program just for this kind of an activity or incident.

That is, something unusual occurs within a population for which we're totally not expecting. We had some success in this area of identifying this because we took a very broad perspective on how to go about attacking this problem in the virus isolation, and fortunately, I say with some luck, were able to come up with the issue.

But I think that what the take-home message has to be in here is that we need to be looking for unusual events and we need to have the capability at our regional laboratories to be able to identify these unusual events, and like I say, we were just fortunate enough to have been in the right place at the right time to have picked up this particular event that occurred, and it's occurred probably multiple times, but to have identified a new agent in a different species, and now we can progress to try and develop the prevention strategies.

But this may not be the last time we're going to see this and we have, you know, 50 plus million dogs, we have 50 plus million cats out there, and these animals sometimes become sentinels for other things that, as I say, we're not quite expecting.

We've had the West Nile incursion into the U.S. and with an identification of that by an astute observation of a pathologist, and people on the ground, who are looking at dogs and cats and other pet animals are going to be the ones who identify these unusual events. We need to have the capability of first-ate diagnostic systems to be able to identify unusual pathogens when they come along.

MODERATOR: Thank you, and we'll take a few more questions, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Donald McNeil from the New York Times, your line is now open.

MR. McNEIL: Thank you. Could the speakers be more specific about any recommendations or precautions they might recommend. Should people avoid walking their dogs with other dogs? Should they avoid walking their dogs with dogs that are coughing? Should they avoid taking their dogs to kennels or to grooming salons or anything like that? Should kennels refuse dogs that are coughing? Are there any recommendations now?

MODERATOR: You know, Donald, this is very much a work in progress, and no formal guidance has been developed, but there are some common sense approaches that people can take, and I think Dr. Crawford may be able to elaborate a little bit more on those. Dr. Crawford?

DR. CRAWFORD: I will take the first stab at it and I encourage my colleagues to contribute their perspectives also.

I guess maybe one way to answer this question is I am taking my two Pekinese to be groomed next week to a groomer that sees many dogs during the day. I will continue to board my pet greyhound at boarding kennels when I need to.

I will continue to show dogs at the American Kennel Club sanctioned shows.

So I, myself, will continue on with my routine activities with my own dogs. They will go to dog parks. They will participate in other community activities with other dogs.

However, I think common sense is a good term to use in that dog owners who have a dog with a respiratory infection or that has just recovered from a respiratory infection should probably keep the dog at home until a couple of weeks have elapsed, number one, for that dog to recover fully, and number two, in case that dog has an infectious disease, whether it's flu or not, that could be communicable to other dogs that it is around.

I think veterinarians have become aware of canine influenza virus and have continued their practices of taking precautions with communicable diseases, and most likely upgraded their precautions in addition.

But as far as your average dog owner, I think they should continue to walk their dog on the street, do all the other dog-related activities, but just use common sense about taking your dog out in public, if it has had, or has recently recovered from a respiratory infection.

MODERATOR: Do any of the other participants have anything to add to that? If not, we'll go to the next question. Let's go to the next question then, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you.

Lance Gay with Scripps Howard News Service, your line is now open.

MR. GAY: Did you say--do you know anything about whether or not this virus can be transmitted back from dogs to horses and from dogs to other animals? Do you know anything more about the infectivity, number one.

Number two, do you know how--when the transfer took place? Has it only just been a couple of years or has there been some underlying disease here that you're just finding out about?

MR. SKINNER: Dr. Dubovi, do you want to take a stab at that one?

DR. DUBOVI: Well, it's a stab. I mean currently we certainly in most of the veterinary diagnostic systems are monitoring not only dogs but horses and should there be a canine or an-I'm sorry--equine isolation coming from horses that are associated with a problem in dogs, this virus will be isolated and the sequence being done to see if that kind of a transfer is occurring. But the evidence--at this point in time, there's absolutely no evidence of the transfer from the horses--or from the dogs to the horses.

This transfer, if you will, from horses, if that's where it came from--into the dogs is, as I say, has probably has been somewhat of a recent event in that when we just do general screens of dog samples from past years, we're not seeing any hint of a reactivity to this particular virus.

So based on that--obviously maybe some flimsy information--we can go back and test thousands of samples if we have to. But right now, the best guess is that this has not been an introduction that's occurred many years ago, but it's a fairly new one.

MR. SKINNER: Okay. Let's take one last question please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our final question comes from Michelle Gile with KCAL Television.

MS. GILE: Hi. Thank you. Have you received or are you testing samples from California? And if so, when and where? And also is this as simple as an infected dog coughing on another dog and is that how this virus is passed?

MR. SKINNER: Dr. Dubovi, do you want to take a stab at that one?

DR. DUBOVI: I don't personally have any information on samples from California. I know Dr. Crawford had collected a number of samples, which we're currently testing, but I don't know quite the location.

So as I say, as time goes on, we certainly--I know there's samples in the pipeline coming in from California and Colorado and New Mexico, et cetera. So as I say, later on in the week, we'll have a bit more information, so I certainly can't give you any information on where and when anything has been collected out of California.

As far as transmission, is it just as simple as one dog sneezing on another? I think the best guess we have right now is that if you project how--probably influenza travels from person to person, you could probably think that that's probably how it’s going to transfer from dog to dog.

MR. SKINNER: Okay. Thank you. That's going to conclude our call today. Thank you all, the participants and all the media that called in. Feel free to call the various press offices of the participants for any follow-up questions you may have. And we'll keep you posted as we learn more. Thank you very much.


OPERATOR: Thank you. This does conclude today's conference call. We thank you for your participation.

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