Iowa Family Transmits H1N1 Virus to Pet Cat
By VLADIMIR NEGRON
November 4, 2009
A 13-year-old cat in Iowa has tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (more commonly known as the swine flu), Iowa state officials confirmed on Monday.
The cat, which has recovered after successful treatment, was brought to the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where it tested positive for the H1N1 virus.
"Two of the three members of the family that owns the pet had suffered from influenza-like illness before the cat became ill," said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Veterinarian, Dr. Ann Garvey. "This is not completely unexpected, as other strains of influenza have been found in cats in the past."
Though the cat is believed to have caught the virus from someone in the household who was sick with H1N1, there are no idications that the cat passed the virus to any other animals or people. Both the cat and its owners have recovered from their illnesses.
Prior to this diagnosis, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus had been found in humans, pigs, birds, and ferrets. This is the first time a cat has been diagnosed with this strain of influenza.
According to IDPH officials, pet owners should be reminded that some viruses can pass between people and animals. Pet owners can reduce their pets risk by washing their hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and minimizing contact with their pets while ill with influenza-like symptoms. If your pet exhibits signs of a respiratory illness, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is tracking all instances of H1N1 in animals and posting updates on their Web site at www.avma.org.
Image courtesy of AVMA