While H1N1 has caused concern among people, a few pet owners have also expressed concern about the family dog or cat becoming infected with this virus.
Influenza viruses are not species-specific viruses, which means they can infect several species of animals, although infection and disease tends to be more common in the species after which the virus is named.
There have been a few isolated reports of infections in dogs and cats with the H1N1 virus. While a few cats did die from infection with the virus, most infected pets experienced no clinical signs or only showed mild clinical signs from which they recovered with supportive therapy.
The H1N1 virus is a very unique virus. According to the CDC, the virus contains genetic pieces from four different virus sources, which is unusual. The current strain of the H1N1 virus consists of North American swine influenza viruses, North American avian influenza viruses, human influenza viruses and swine influenza viruses found in both Asia and Europe.
Infections in dogs and cats occur after the animals are exposed to their infected and sick owners. While it is unlikely that the family dog or cat will get sick, it may be wise to limit exposure of the family pet (and other family members) to anyone in the house who is sick with the H1N1 virus.
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