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Cat in Wisconsin Diagnosed with Swine Flu

By Vladimir Negron    February 14, 2011 at 05:14PM / (3) comments

A six-year-old cat in Wisconsin is the first confirmed case of H1N1 influenza in a U.S. pet since January 2010, according to IDEXX laboratory tests released today.

The owner of the cat had been ill with flu-like symptoms prior to the cat's illness and is believed to be the source of the infection.

A second cat in the household also developed severe respiratory disease. Despite testing negative for the virus, it is now presumed that the cat was also infected with the H1N1 strain. Both cats were euthanized after failing to respond to medical treatment.

Although the H1N1 influenza virus has been found in humans, cats, pigs, birds, and ferrets, and human to animal contagion is now documented, there have been no confirmed cases of pets passing the virus back to people.

Dog and cat owners who have been ill with the H1N1 virus should observe their pets for any flu-like symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, sneezing, coughing, fever, discharge from eyes and/or nose, and changes in breathing.

For more information about the H1N1 Flu, see the American Veterinary Medical Association's website.


Image: Cameron Nordholm / via Flickr

Comments  3

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  • Scary Stuff
    02/19/2011 11:13am

    The H1N1 virus hasn't really been in the news this winter so it's possible that the general public thinks the danger has passed.

    This makes me think that if the human has the flu, it's best not to have contact with the critters as well as disinfecting everything.

    Is there any information regarding a flu shot for pets?

    Thanks so much for the information.

  • 02/21/2011 11:10am

    It seems as if, at least for now, there is no such flu shot for this virus strain. Here is the latest from the AVMA:

    Q: What are the chances an infected pet will infect other animals, or even the veterinary staff, while at my clinic?

    A: We don't really know. To date, evidence has supported that the pets that have been infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus were infected by their owners. There is no evidence that the pets spread the virus to any other animals or to people. However, because we don't fully know the risk, animals suspected or confirmed to be infected should be managed in the same manner as a pet with a viral respiratory infection. Veterinarians and veterinary staff treating and handling pets with respiratory disease and a history of flu-like illness in the pet's home should consider the use of facial protection covering their mouth, nose and eyes. Veterinarians can refer to the Compendium of Veterinary Standard Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel for additional guidance.

  • 02/21/2011 06:30pm

    Thanks so much for the information. It sounds like we humans can give the virus to our critters, but so far there's no evidence that they can share it with us.

    Thank you again for bringing up the H1N1 virus. Now that the huge scare has passed, it's a great reminder that we need to continue to be vigilant.