Understanding the divergent evolution and epidemiology of H3N8 influenza viruses in dogs and horses

Brian R. Wasik, Evin Rothschild, Ian E.H. Voorhees, Stephanie E. Reedy, Pablo R. Murcia, Nicola Pusterla, Thomas M. Chambers, Laura B. Goodman, Edward C. Holmes, James C. Kile, Colin R. Parrish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cross-species virus transmission events can lead to dire public health emergencies in the form of epidemics and pandemics. One example in animals is the emergence of the H3N8 equine influenza virus (EIV), first isolated in 1963 in Miami, FL, USA, after emerging among horses in South America. In the early 21st century, the American lineage of EIV diverged into two ‘Florida’ clades that persist today, while an EIV transferred to dogs around 1999 and gave rise to the H3N8 canine influenza virus (CIV), first reported in 2004. Here, we compare CIV in dogs and EIV in horses to reveal their host-specific evolution, to determine the sources and connections between significant outbreaks, and to gain insight into the factors controlling their different evolutionary fates. H3N8 CIV only circulated in North America, was geographically restricted after the first few years, and went extinct in 2016. Of the two EIV Florida clades, clade 1 circulates widely and shows frequent transfers between the USA and South America, Europe and elsewhere, while clade 2 was globally distributed early after it emerged, but since about 2018 has only been detected in Central Asia. Any potential zoonotic threat of these viruses to humans can only be determined with an understanding of its natural history and evolution. Our comparative analysis of these three viral lineages reveals distinct patterns and rates of sequence variation yet with similar overall evolution between clades, suggesting epidemiological intervention strategies for possible eradication of H3N8 EIV.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbervead052
JournalVirus Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • H3N8
  • enzootic
  • influenza
  • non-human hosts
  • whole genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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