H1N1 (Swine) Flu and Pets

pigletWith so much media attention focused on H1N1 (Swine) flu, it’s not difficult to find articles explaining how to protect yourself and what treatment options are available. But what about your other family members, do you also need to look out for your pets during this outbreak?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that this current influenza virus be referred to as H1N1 instead of the swine flu, because at this point in time, the virus is a human-to-human disease. H1N1 is actually composed of four different strains of influenza: a swine flu from North America, a human influenza virus, an avian influenza virus from North America and a pig influenza common to Europe and Asia. Although infections are increasing on a daily basis, only humans have become infected, not pigs.

With regard to cats, dogs and smaller species of pets (including birds), there is not any evidence showing that these animals can contract the virus. Dogs and cats have an influenza virus, which is specific to their species (the feline version of influenza is Type A H5N1, and the canine version is Type A H3N8). However, it’s still wise to be familiar with the warning signs of swine influenza, because H1N1 does contain a strain of avian influenza virus and swine influenza, which may potentially affect birds and pigs as the virus evolves.

Contacting your veterinarian is a sensible idea, especially if your pet has developed symptoms of a respiratory infection. For example, if you own a pot-bellied pig, any of the following signs could be symptoms of swine flu: fever, coughing (barking), sneezing, breathing problems, nose or eye discharge, eye redness or inflammation, depression and loss of appetite.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), H1N1 has not been found in pigs, so there is not yet a need to panic, but you should still be aware of the possibility. Updates on the U.S. human cases of H1N1 can be found on the CDC’s website, and rest assured that Federal veterinarians, state animal health officials and private practitioners are regularly monitoring pigs in the U.S. for signs of this influenza virus.

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8 Responses

  1. kledy
    | Reply

    H1N1 (Swine) Flu and Pets: With so much media attention focused on H1N1 (Swine) flu, it’s not difficult to find .. http://tinyurl.com/ryhb26

  2. HART (1-800-HART)
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    (new PetLvr post ).. H1N1 (Swine) Flu and Pets: With so much media attention focused on H1N1.. http://tinyurl.com/q74y8z

  3. Marina Hanes
    | Reply

    Can H1N1 (Swine) flu affect pets? Find out: http://bit.ly/dFzll

  4. Marina Hanes
    | Reply

    Can H1N1 (Swine) flu affect pets? Find out: http://bit.ly/dFzll

  5. eric shannon
    | Reply

    Swine flu – do you need to be worried about your pets? – http://budurl.com/cc99

  6. How To Prevent Flu
    | Reply

    As the name implies, pigs can contract swine flu. But yes, you’re absolutely right – dog and cat owners probably shouldn’t be particularly concerned.

  7. Cary Bertoncini
    | Reply

    I’d be somewhat concerned. I had the flu in December. Kiki fell ill in January. We thought it was FIP, but a PCR test of the fluid from her abdomen and chest was negative. She died about a month after showing symptoms (lethargic, fever, weight loss, bad sore throat, some upper respiratory symptoms, coughing). About a week later, another cat showed similar symptoms, which repeated through several other cats in the house (6 others total). Two got very ill, the others more mildly ill and all the others recovered. When I was sick, Kiki was curled up next to me the whole time. We didn’t have any of them tested (or know there was a test available at the time), so we can’t be 100 percent sure, but our vet and I agree it seems like the most likely cause. Kiki was a bit over six years old and the absolute light of my life.

  8. Marina Hanes
    | Reply

    Hi Carol, thanks for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss. That’s awful that they all got so ill. I think we’re supposed to have a second coming of the H1N1, but I haven’t heard much about it since this last outbreak.

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