Ten 3-month-old Tibetan mastiffs became ill 2 days after they were bought from a Tibetan mastiff exhibition, and 4 of them died 2 weeks later. A canine influenza virus (ZJ0110) was isolated from the lung of a deceased Tibetan mastiff and was characterized in detail. Sequence analysis indicated that the 8 genes of the canine isolate were most similar to those of avian-origin canine influenza viruses (H3N2) isolated in South Korea in 2007, with which they shared >98% sequence identity. ZJ0110 could experimentally infect 6-month-old beagles by intranasal inoculation and by airborne transmission, causing severe respiratory syndrome. Moreover, ZJ0110 could replicate in the upper respiratory tracts of mice and guinea pigs, and the virus titer was comparable to that in the upper respiratory tracts of dogs. Although the virus was genetically of avian origin, ZJ0110 could not experimentally infect chicken or ducks by intranasal inoculation. These results suggest that dogs might be an intermediary host in which avian influenza viruses adapt to replicate in mammals.
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