Author Topic: cats and swine flu  (Read 4703 times)

Offline Tan

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cats and swine flu
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2009, 22:30:08 PM »
Ref FAB -
At the beginning of November a sick, 13-year old cat in Iowa, USA was diagnosed with the H1N1 'swine flu' influenza virus.  He had become lethargic, lost his appetite and had respiratory distress and diarrhoea.  He was treated with antibiotics and fluids and recovered.  This is the first report that cats can become infected with the swine flu virus.

It is very likely that the cat caught the virus from humans.  Two of the three people who lived with the cat had flu-like symptoms before the cat became ill.  Although H1N1 has not been confirmed as the cause of their illness, there is strong circumstantial evidence that they were the source of the infection and the virus was transmitted from them to the cat rather than the other way round, as the cat did not go outdoors.

There appears to be a small risk of animals catching the current swine flu virus from humans.  Pigs, turkeys and pet ferrets have been diagnosed with the virus.  Previously cats have died from eating birds infected with the earlier avian flu H5N1 virus. 

However, there is no evidence yet that influenza viruses spread between cats or from cats to humans.

To reduce the risk of pet cats becoming infected from people with flu, the same precautions should be taken that apply to preventing human-to-human spread of the virus.  Close contact with cats should be avoided, particularly face to face contact.  Coughs and sneezes should be contained in paper tissues which should then be discarded hygienically.  Hands should be washed very carefully before handling pets.

Cats in households in which people have symptoms of flu should be monitored carefully.  If cats show signs of illness, owners should seek advice immediately from their veterinary surgeon.


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