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Frequently Asked Questions about the 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus and Pets

Updated November 6, 2009

These questions and answers are based on what is currently known about the virus, and will be updated as we get new information.

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.

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.

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Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab Tests Pets for H1N1, Offers Health Tips to Pet Owners  [edited]

FORT COLLINS - Colorado State University's Veterinary Diagnostic
Laboratory will begin testing samples from pets submitted by
veterinarians for H1N1 after a small number of companion animals have
tested positive for the flu. The laboratory is also offering tips to  pet
owners about keeping their pets healthy this flu season.
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Contagiado un Gato con el virus H1N1

La primera mascota diagnosticada en los Estados Unidos con el virus de la influenza H1N1, es un gato en el estado de Iowa.
 
Según las autoridades, el gato de 13 años de edad, se contagió por alguno de sus dueños quienes estuvieron enfermos durante las pasadas semanas. 
 
Hasta el 29 de octubre, cuando se diagnosticó el gato, la cepa H1N1 del virus de la influenza sólo la mostraban cerdos, gallinas, hurones y humanos. Para algunos esto es una sorpresa, pero no para la Asociación Americana de Medicina Veterinaria (AVMA), o para el Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico quienes han denunciado en múltiples ocasiones que el 75% de las enfermedades emergentes en los últimos 20 años son de transmisión entre animales y humanos.
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