November 6, 2009
Update on H1N1 (Swine Flu) in Pets
The latest rumors about how swine flu can affect your pet are spreadingbut we're here to set the record straight! Read on for some expert advice from Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA.
"On November 2, test results confirmed that a pet cat was infected by the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, which was most likely transmitted by human family members," reports Dr. Murray. "The cat was tested for the virus at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and results were positive. All family members, including the cat, have now recovered."
The H1N1 influenza virus contains genetic material from four different influenza viruses, including human, swine, and avian influenza viruses. Previously known to be transmittable to both pigs and turkeys by infected humans, this is the first reported case of H1N1 affecting a cat. Several pet ferrets also recently became infected with the virus by human family members.
According to Dr. Murray, there is no evidence to date of a dog with H1N1 or of any human beings infected by a pet. However, she adds, "Commonsense measures should be taken with all pets to decrease the likelihood of potential virus transmission, including keeping pets out of the bedroom of anyone with flu-like illness and away from contaminated objects."
The ASPCA recommends that pet parents with flu-like symptoms protect their pets by washing hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with pets during the course of illness.
If your pet is displaying symptoms such as lethargy, coughing, sneezing or difficulty breathingespecially after a human family member has recently suffered from influenzaplease contact your veterinarian. For more information about keeping your pet healthy this flu season, please check out our wintertime pet safety tips.