A lethal horse virus, thought to be spread via half-chewed fruit, or water and food contaminated by bats' droppings, has for the first time been detected in a dog.
Authorities in Australia fear that the lethal Hendra virus has jumped species.
"This is the first time outside of a laboratory that an animal other than a flying fox or a horse, or a human, has been confirmed with Hendra virus infection," Discovery News quoted Queensland state Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons as saying.
Symons said the dog, which tested positive for antibodies for the disease but appeared healthy, was on a property where Hendra had been confirmed and was currently under quarantine.
He added that the case raised many questions for bio security and health officials and researchers.
"We don't know how the dog contracted the virus or when it happened. Based on our knowledge to date, it is most likely that the dog caught the virus from an infected horse," he stated.
So far, 14 horses have died or been put down in Australia since June as a result of the Hendra virus, which was only discovered in 1994.
No humans have yet been infected in the current outbreak, which has affected farms in New South Wales and Queensland, but four of the seven people ever to have contracted the disease have died.