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New York Man Transmits H1N1 Virus to Pet Dog


December 22, 2009

A 13-year-old mixed-breed dog in New York has tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (more commonly known as the swine flu), IDEXX Laboratories confirmed yesterday. This is the first time a dog has been diagnosed with this strain of influenza in the United States.

The male dog, which has since recovered after hospitalization and supportive care, is believed to have caught the virus from its owner, who had tested positive with H1N1 earlier. Initially treated for what appeared to be symptoms of pneumonia — dry cough, lethargy, and an unwillingness to eat — the dog also was febrile, with a critically high temperature of 103.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The H1N1 Virus was discovered during routine blood tests.

There are no indications that the dog passed the virus on to any other animals or people.

Although the 2009 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.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, pet owners should take the same precautions with their animals as they would with family members. Minimize contact with pets until 24 hours after the fever has passed, wash hands frequently, and cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues.

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 2009 H1N1 Flu, see the American Veterinary Medical Association's Web site.

Image courtesy of AVMA

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