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December 28, 2009

Swine Flu Update

Can my pet get the 2009 H1N1 virus?    Here is an answer from AVMA:

Until recently, we had no reason to believe pets could be infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus because it is very uncommon for flu viruses to jump between species. However, on October 9, 2009, a USDA laboratory confirmed 2009/H1N1 infection in a ferret. The ferret's owner had recently been ill with the flu. Ferrets are more susceptible to infection with influenza viruses, so this was not altogether surprising. A second ferret was confirmed to be infected with the virus in late October – this ferret died. At this time, there are no reports of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus being transmitted from a ferret to a person.

Since that time, 2009 H1N1 flu has been confirmed in ferrets, cats and a dog in the U.S. On November 4, the Iowa State Veterinarian and the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that a pet cat was confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. The cat's owners were ill and the cat developed respiratory symptoms shortly afterward. The cat has recovered and there is no evidence at this time that the cat passed the virus to any people. A second cat, this one in Utah, was confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus on November 13. Like the first cat, the cat's owner was ill with flu-like symptoms prior to the cat's illness. The cat had difficult breathing and was taken to a veterinarian for treatment. The cat is recovering from its illness.

A third cat, in Oregon, died from 2009 H1N1 influenza-related pneumonia. As with the other cats, this cat showed signs of respiratory disease after a human member of the household had been ill with flu-like symptoms. Despite treatment, the cat died. Tests confirmed infection with the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.

Two cats in different households in Colorado were confirmed to be infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in early December 2009. Both cats recovered from their illness.

A sixth cat confirmed to be infected with the virus died in late November. This cat had pre-existing respiratory problems – severe pneumonia and fluid accumulation inside its chest caused the cat's death despite veterinary treatment.

The seventh infected cat, and the third to die from complications related to 2009 H1N1 influenza infection, lived in Pennsylvania.

France confirmed 2009 H1N1 infection in a cat on December 8. The 5-year old cat became ill after 2 children in the household had been ill.

On November 28, the Chinese press reported that 2 dogs in Beijing tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. We have not yet been able to confirm this report and do not have information about the signs of illness the dogs were showing, how they were diagnosed and treated, and if they have recovered. On December 21, 2009 a dog in New York was confirmed to be infected with 2009 H1N1 influenza after it showed signs of illness following its owner's illness with confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza infection. The dog is recovering from its illness.

On December 22, 2009, an 8-year old female domestic shorthaired cat in southern California tested positive for 2009 H1N1 influenza. Like the other infected pets to date, this cat's owner was previously ill with flu-like symptoms. The cat is recovering from its illness.

Pets that live indoors, especially cats, tend to have close contact with their owners – after all, that's why we have pets – and that increases their chances of being exposed to diseases. The best advice is to always follow common sense guidelines when dealing with animals (for example, washing your hands). In addition, it's more important than ever that pet owners keep a good eye on their pet's health and consult a veterinarian if their pet is showing any signs of illness. Keeping your pets healthy reduces their risk of becoming ill.


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