Skip to content

May 31 2015

Cats and Ferrets and H1N1

Currently there have been confirmed cases of H1N1 in swine, cats and ferrets.   We have received many calls recently regarding the risks and treatments of suspected cases.  The FAQ’s below were taken from the AVMA website at .

Q: Can my pet get the 2009 H1N1 virus?

A:Until recently, we had no reason to believe pets could be infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus because it is very uncommon for flu viruses to jump between species. However, on October 9, 2009, a USDA laboratory confirmed 2009/H1N1 infection in a ferret. The ferret’s owner had recently been ill with the flu. Ferrets are more susceptible to infection with influenza viruses, so this was not altogether surprising. At this time, there are no reports of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus being transmitted from a ferret to a person.

On November 4, 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. A second cat, this one in Utah, was confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus on November 13. Like the first cat, 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.

Pets that live indoors, especially cats, tend to have close contact with their owners – after all, that’s why we have pets – and that increases their chances of being exposed to diseases. The best advice is to always follow common sense guidelines when dealing with animals (for example, washing your hands). 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.

Q: I’ve heard about ferrets and two cats getting the 2009 H1N1 virus. Should I get rid of my ferret or cat so my family is protected?

A:Certainly not. This is not cause for panic and extreme measures. You are much more likely to catch the flu (any type of flu, including the 2009 H1N1 flu) from an infected person than you are from an animal. So far, all of the pets infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus became infected from being around their ill owners. The main lesson here is that if you’re feeling ill and have flu-like symptoms, you should probably limit your contact with your pets (and other people, for that matter) until you are feeling better. As always, if your pet is showing signs of illness, it should be examined by a veterinarian.

Most animals confirmed with H1N1 have recovered.  The cats and ferrets detected with H1N1 all showed similar signs.  They include: fever, difficulty breathing, coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and decreased appetite.  If symptoms occur, support therapy can be beneficial.  Please contact your veterinarian as soon as symptoms are noted.

A few rare cases of dogs have been confirmed with an H1N1 infection.  However, there is a canine influenza virus (H3N8) that has more frequently affected dogs in the last few years.  This virus, however, does not affect people.  There is currently a vaccine available for canine influenza (H3N8), but not for H1N1.  Human vaccines against H1N1 should not be used on animals.

ddaley | Uncategorized

Comments are closed.