Can my pet get H1N1?


Answer clients' biggest flu question with confidence.

With the first feline death due to H1N1 confirmed and the virus now affecting dogs, you're probably fielding dozens of phone calls from clients concerned with their pet's contamination risk. While pets are being affected, the number infected is miniscule compared to the millions of pets living with families today. What's more, researchers believe infected people have passed the virus to the affected animals, allowing pet owners to pinpoint their loved-one's risk. So put clients' worries to rest by sharing this information.

According to the AVMA Web site, it's unlikely for cats or dogs to contract the H1N1 virus. Like most flu viruses, it appears to be transmitted from person to person. However, the AVMA reported in October that a USDA laboratory confirmed the H1N1 infection in a ferret and a pig. So far there are no reports of the virus being transmitted from animal to animal or from animals to a person. Again, in the cases of infected animals, it's believed the animals contracted the virus from their owners. If people contract the H1N1 virus, taking the necessary precautions to protect pets will help ensure they remain virus-free.

After you've reassured your clients Fido and Fluffy are likely safe, thank them for being responsible pet owners. Then remind them to follow common-sense health guidelines for pets and people and to consult your hospital if their pet starts to show any signs of illness.

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Angela Elia, BS, LVT, CVT, VTS (ECC)
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