Posted: Nov 08 2009
The Portland Parenting Examiner reports that a USDA lab has confirmed an H1N1 flu case in a pet ferret. The ferret’s owner had been ill with the flu just prior to the ferret contracting the virus. Scientists were not alarmed, because ferrets are susceptible to influenza.
Additionally, the Iowa State Veterinarian and the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that a pet cat was confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. The cat’s owners were ill and the cat developed respiratory symptoms shortly afterward. The cat has recovered and there is no evidence at this time that the cat passed the virus to any people.
What is the H1N1 Flu Virus? The symptoms are very similar to human respiratory flu, with possible additional gastrointestinal side effects such as vomiting, stomach ache and diarrhea. In the US, the majority of cases so far have had self-limiting flu-like symptoms—just as with the “normal” seasonal flu. Most people recover from this flu strain in the same way they recover from the usual human flu. People at higher risk of disease, or more severe disease, include pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
The best way to protect yourself and your pets is to always follow common sense guidelines including washing your hands frequently. In addition, it’s more important than ever that pet owners keep a good eye on their pet’s health and consult a veterinarian if their pet is showing any signs of illness. Keeping your pets healthy reduces their risk of becoming ill.
For more information about the H1N1 flu virus and pets visit the American Veterinary Medical Association.