Until recently it was thought that pets could not be infected with the 2009
H1N1 virus. It is in fact considered quite uncommon for flu viruses to jump from one species to another. On October 9, 2009 the 2009/H1N1 virus confirmed by a USDA laboratory as present in a ferret
. It was noted that the ferret's owner was recently ill with the flu virus and the points to possible human to animal
contamination. Please note that at this time, there are no reports of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus being transmitted from a ferret to a person.
In addition, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, on November 4th 2009 the Iowa State Veterinarian and the Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed that a cat was infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. As previously noted with the ferret, the feline’s owner was ill previous to the diagnosis and the cat developed respiratory symptoms shortly thereafter. The cat has recovered and there is no evidence at this time that the cat passed the virus to any people.
A second cat in Utah was also confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus on November 13. Like the first two incidents, the cat's owner was ill with flu-like symptoms prior to the cat's illness. The cat had difficult breathing and was taken to a veterinarian for treatment. The cat is recovering from its illness.
To date, no other house bound pets such as pot bellied pigs or birds have been reported as having the 2009 H5N1 flu virus.
Given this new information, it is quite important for you and your loved ones to follow the flu prevention guidelines presented by the Center for Disease Control
when handling humans as well as animals. Because transmission appears to be from human to animal, it is your job to keep your furry, scaly and feathered friends safe and happy. It is also more important than ever that you keep an on your pet
’s health and consult a trusted animal health practitioner if your pet shows any signs of illness.
Please visit the following websites for more information about the 2009H5N1 flu virus and your pet: