Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Pets susceptible to flu virus
TORONTO -- Canadians have been lining up across the country to get an H1N1 flu shot, but it may not be just themselves and their family members they have to worry about when it comes to contracting the virus.
Some pets may also be susceptible to the disease.
On Wednesday, U.S. officials confirmed that a 13-year-old cat was infected with H1N1 flu. The domestic shorthair was treated last week at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and has recovered.
"We've known certainly it's possible this could happen," said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the U.S Centers for Disease Control. "This may be the first instance where we have documentation that transmission occurred involving cats or dogs."
H1N1 flu was also confirmed in two pet ferrets in Oregon and Nebraska. Stormy, one of four pet ferrets owned by a Nebraska family, died last week after all the animals contracted H1N1 influenza from their owners.
Scott Weese, an expert in zoonotic diseases at the University of Guelph, said the animal cases underscore the need for owners of companion animals to realize that "pets are part of the household microbiologically, not just socially."
"So if you have an infectious disease, you try not to transmit it to your family members, and your pets should be part of that."
Weese said there are no hard data on which species of pets are vulnerable to H1N1 influenza, which carries a mix of human, avian and swine flu genes.
-- The Canadian Press, The Associated Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2009 A6
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