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Is your pet at risk for swine flu?

Since April of 2009, the H1N1 influenza virus has continued to make international headlines and the most recent developments in H1N1 involve pet owners.

 

Until recently the 2009 HN1 virus had been confirmed to infect pigs, poultry and humans. In October of this year, veterinarians confirmed the first cases of pet ferrets infected with H1N1. Since then, 2 cats have also been confirmed with the virus-both are in recovery. A third cat was hospitalized November 3rd and died on November 7th, preliminarily test suggest an H1N1 infection. 

In all of these cases the pets lived in close contact with owners that were either ill or confirmed to have had H1N1 themselves. To help combat the spread of the virus the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is urging pet owners to practice the same hygiene and sanitation guidelines they would with people. While there is no evidence that immunocompromised pets (i.e. those that are very young, very old, or have a chronic illness) are more susceptible to H1N1, owners should exercise caution.
 
The AVMA also recommends having your pet seen by a veterinarian if they develop respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose/eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite and/or fever. These symptoms are similar to those of other common respiratory infections in pets, making a confirmed diagnosis difficult. There are several viral respiratory infections specific to cats and dogs that cannot be transmitted to members of another species, however, these infections still warrant veterinary care as they can develop into serious conditions if left untreated.
 
To date, there have been no cases of pet birds, pet pigs or dogs developing illness related to H1N1. For more information on these cases or other information on H1N1 and pets, please visit http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus/default.asp.