Can Pets Get H1N1?


ferret-flu-sm250We are all taking great care to protect ourselves and our children from H1N1, but what about our pets?  Can they become ill with the virus as well?  The answer depends upon what kind of pet you have.

While there has never been a documented case of human to dog/cat influenza transmission, the same cannot be said for ferrets. A ferret in Oregon was recently diagnosed with H1N1 and it is believed that the pet was infected by its owner. The ferret is recovering.

And then there are the pigs.  Recent tests confirmed that some pigs at the Minnesota State Fair were infected with H1N1.  How the pigs became infected isn’t clear, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says there is no need to fear the bacon as H1N1 cannot be contracted by people from eating pork and pork products.

If you have a pet pig or ferret and believe you may have contracted H1N1, it is recommended that you avoid handling them until you are are well.

While dogs and cats can’t get H1N1, they can get their own special versions of the flu.  The canine influenza virus is called Type A H3N8. In felines, it’s Type A H5N1.  And while dogs and cats can’t spread their version of the flu to humans, they can spread it to each other.  If you think your pet may be ill,  see your vet.

Image: hans s/Flickr