Saturday, 7 November 2009

Can Your Pet Catch H1N1?

I received an email in which I had to post as it is very scary and important:



ASK DR. SCHELLING

Dear Dr. Schelling,
Can my cat Virgil catch the H1N1 virus?

- Paula in Alabama

Dear Paula

This is a very timely question as just recently H1N1 flu has been confirmed in a 13-year-old cat from Iowa.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) released the following information:

A cat in Iowa has tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, state officials confirmed this morning, marking the first time a cat has been diagnosed with this strain of influenza.

The cat, who is recovering, is believed to have caught the virus from someone in the household who was sick with H1N1. There are no indications that the cat passed the virus on to any other animals or people.

Prior to this diagnosis, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus had been found in humans, pigs, birds and ferrets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) are reminding pet owners that some viruses can pass between people and animals, so this was not an altogether unexpected event. Pet owners should monitor their pets' health very closely, no matter what type of animal, and visit a veterinarian if there are any signs of illness.

The AVMA is actively tracking all instances of H1N1 in animals and posting updates on this web site.

The Iowa Department of Public Health writes:

The 13-year-old indoor cat in Iowa was brought to the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where it tested positive for the H1N1 virus. The diagnosis is the culmination of collaborative efforts between IDPH, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Center for Advanced Host Defenses, Immunobiotics and Translational Comparative Medicine, USDA, and IDALS Animal Industry Bureau.

“Two of the three members of the family that owns the pet had suffered from influenza-like illness before the cat became ill,” said IDPH Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Ann Garvey. “This is not completely unexpected, as other strains of influenza have been found in cats in the past.” Both the cat and its owners have recovered from their illnesses.

People can keep their pets healthy by washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and minimizing contact with their pets while ill with influenza-like symptoms. If your pet exhibits signs of a respiratory illness, contact your veterinarian.

“Indoor pets that live in close proximity to someone who has been sick are at risk and it is wise to monitor their health to ensure they aren’t showing signs of illness,” said Dr. David Schmitt, State Veterinarian for Iowa.

For more information about H1N1, you can call the Influenza Hotline at 1-800-447-1985.

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