Swine Flu: What it is and what it isn't
Answers to your clients questions
• The novel “swine flu” (H1N1) has been a serious additional health concern for people during this current flu season.
• Despite its name, there is no evidence to date that this particular virus originated in pigs or is spread from pigs to people.
• Even though there is no evidence this new virus is found in pigs, swine practitioners have stepped up their surveillance.
• There is no reason to question the safety of your food.
o While there is no evidence this virus has been found in pigs, even if it were, proper preparation would kill the virus.
o As always, practice proper food hygiene when preparing meals.
• This virus is spread from person to person.
• Until recently, experts believed that, with the exception of birds and pet pigs, our pets were not susceptible to this virus. In fact, we don’t generally worry about our pets with any of the common seasonal flu strains.
• Now, several (5) cases of H1N1 in ferrets and a single cat that tested positive for the virus have shown that human transmission of the bug to our pets is possible.
• So far, several ferrets from the same family in Oregon tested positive as did a ferret in Nebraska who subsequently died. The 13 year old cat in Iowa who tested positive has recovered without incident. To date, no dogs have tested positive.
• Currently, treatments for pets that contract H1N1 are supportive care and antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is present. Like most people, it appears that this flu causes a mild illness in pets.
• Veterinarians and the CDC will continue to monitor H1N1 in order to make sure pets and people stay protected. If pets were especially susceptible, we would expect infection rates that mirrored the human population.
• At this time, there is not an H1N1 vaccine that has been approved for pets. Veterinarians do recommend that all cats should be current on vaccines for respiratory infections, like rhinotrachetis.
• Veterinarians and public health experts continue to stress the importance of hand washing and remaining at home if you are sick.
• Even though pets bring us lots of comfort, it is best to avoid sleeping or snuggling with your pets (especially ferrets) if you are ill.
• Veterinarians are aware of the possible transmission of H1N1 to cats and ferrets. Your local animal hospital is best suited to care for your pet and prevent diseases, so don’t be afraid to take your pet to t he veterinarian if you are concerned.