A 13 year old indoor cat was just diagnosed with the H1N1 flu in Ames, IA. The cat got the virus from a family member who had been sick with the H1N1 virus. The cat was brought to the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine where it received IV therapy and antibiotics. Kitty is recovering nicely.
This case is ground breaking because it is the first confirmed case of a cat contracting H1N1. It also blows away the previously held theory that pets can’t contract the H1N1 virus. “Can my pet get the swine flu?” was a question recently posted to the Houston SPCA. The answer, quoted from the Houston Cats Examiner, was “There is no evidence that dogs and cats can contract swine flu.” Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM, the About.com guide for Veterinary Medicine, even thought it was not possible. She wrote, “But what about our dogs and cats? Can they catch or spread H1N1 flu to each other or members of their human family? According to infectious disease experts, at this time the answer is most likely no.” She has now posted an update to her website. This goes to show that there is still much to learn about this virus that is sickening many.
So how can I keep my pet safe and healthy? The same way we are advised to keep ourselves healthy. Wash our hands regularly. Cover our coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue away. Minimize contact with your pet if you are sick. Keep healthy pets away from sick pets. Contact your veterinarian if your pet shows signs of sickness. And above all, don’t panic. Just because your pet is sick doesn’t mean it has H1N1, and only your veterinarian can make that distinction. Cats and dogs can get other kinds of respiratory ailments, and your vet can prescribe the proper treatment.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has begun tracking cases of any animal infected with the H1N1 virus. There is also valuable information for ferret owners, because ferrets are especially susceptible to this strain of flu. Also on this website is “Pandemic Preparedness for Veterinarians.” As a pet owner, I appreciate that there is an organization that is doing research such as this to keep my pet healthy. I urge you to visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website below.