Emergence and Characterization of a Novel Reassortant Canine Influenza Virus Isolated from Cats

Cats are susceptible to a wide range of influenza A viruses (IAV). Furthermore, cats can serve as an intermediate host, and transfer avian influenza virus (AIV) H7N2 to a veterinarian. In this report, a novel reassortant influenza virus, designated A/feline/Jiangsu/HWT/2017 (H3N2), and abbreviated as FIV-HWT-2017, was isolated from nasal swab of a symptomatic cat in Jiangsu province, China. Sequence analysis indicated that, whilst the other seven genes were most similar to the avian-origin canine influenza viruses (CIV H3N2) isolated in China, the NS gene was more closely related to the circulating human influenza virus (H3N2) in the region. Therefore, FIV-HWT-2017 is a reassortant virus. In addition, some mutations were identified, and they were similar to a distinctive CIV H3N2 clade. Whether these cats were infected with the reassortant virus was unknown, however, this random isolation of a reassortant virus indicated that domestic or stray cats were "mixing vessel" for IAV cannot be ruled out. An enhanced surveillance for novel influenza virus should include pet and stray cats.