Posted: 29 Dec 2009 06:59 AM PST
There's news on the swine flu front for pet owners. A case of 2009 H1N1 has been confirmed in a dog from upstate New York. The thirteen year old mixed breed is presumed to have contracted the disease from a sick family member and is recovering after hospitalization and treatment at a local veterinary clinic.
The other news is that we don't call it swine flu anymore. The World Health Organization has officially named this flu 2009 H1N1. That makes sense because this virus contains genetic material from both human and avian flu viruses in addition to two strains of swine flu virus.
Other than that not much has changed since we last reported on this disease. It is still difficult for this bug to jump species and the chance of your pet getting 2009 H1N1 from you or another family member is small. We know there have been zillions of cases in people and many of those people have pets that they cuddle with on a daily basis. If transmission from people to pets was easy we'd have an outbreak of 2009 H1N1 in dogs and cats, too.
There are no reported cases of 2009 H1N1 being transmitted from pets to people either so you don't have to worry about that.
Signs of flu in pets include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, sneezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. We don't know how serious this disease is in pets, either. Of the seven cases reported in cats four have recovered completely and three have died of pneumonia complications. That may sound bad but one of these cats had pre-existing respiratory disease and we don't know much about the treatment received by the other two cats that died.
The dog recovered as we've mentioned. Still, if your dog or cat show the flu symptoms we've described I'd get them in to see the vet, especially if there is a history of flu in a family member. We don't have a 2009 H1N1 vaccine for pets and considering the low numbers of reported cases, I doubt if one is in development.
If you or a family member come down with the flu take the normal precautions to avoid spreading the disease to other members of the family. Stay home, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and limit close contact with people and pets until at least 24 hours after your fever breaks.
If I hear anything new on this topic I'll report back ASAP.
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