The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association would like to inform you of the latest news on reports of H1N1 infection in domestic animals.
The CVMA is happy to report that, to date, there have been no positive cases of H1N1 in any domestic animals in Illinois or the Chicago area.
The “swine flu” (H1N1) virus has made many of us concerned for our own health this flu season. 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. Recently, cases of H1N1 have been confirmed in an Oregon ferret and an Iowa cat. Both animals tested positive for the H1N1 strain at veterinary diagnostic laboratories. This has shown that human transmission of the bug to our pets is possible. In a regular flu season, ferrets are highly susceptible to the “typical” human influenza virus, and usually contract it from their afflicted human caretakers. Both the ferret and cat have recovered fully, and these appear to be isolated incidents. To date, no dogs have tested positive. However, the USDA has reported that some pigs have tested positive for H1N1 in an Indiana swine herd. No further details have been made available regarding the location of this herd or the number of animals infected. The treatment for pets that contract H1N1 is supportive care (proper nutrition and hydration) and antibiotics to prevent secondary illness. As in most people, it appears that this flu causes a mild illness in pets. Currently, there is no H1N1 vaccine that has been approved for pets. Veterinarians and the CDC will continue to monitor H1N1 in order to make sure pets and people stay protected.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has created a FAQ page on their websites with frequent updates. In addition, the USDA has begun to post test results for domestic animals infected with H1N1. Veterinarians and public health experts continue to stress the importance of hand washing and remaining at home if you are sick. While pets bring us comfort, it is best to avoid sleeping or snuggling with your pets (especially ferrets) if you are ill.
CVMA 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 do not hesitate to take your pet to the veterinarian if you are concerned. Please contact the CVMA office at (630) 325-1231 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to consult with a veterinarian regarding these reports. Pet owners can use our “Find-A-Vet” link to locate a veterinarian in their community. Here are some useful links for up-to-date information:
- http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus/default.asp 
- http://www.usda.gov/documents/FINAL_RESULTS_2009_PANDEMIC_H1N1_INFLUENZA_CHT.pdf  
- http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus/default.asp