“Swine flu” infects cats, ferrets, & dogs
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2009:
A cat in Des Moines, Iowa, a cat in Lebanon, Oregon, nine
ferrets in Rice Hill, Oregon, four ferrets in Nebraska, and two
dogs in Beijing in November 2009 became the first household pets
known to have contracted the pandemic H1N1-2009 “swine flu” virus,
which is believed to have evolved in humans from swine flu strains.
Humans have passed the H1N1-2009 strain back to pigs on at least 12
different occasions in as many nations.
Each infected pet lived with humans who displayed H1N1-2009
symptoms earlier. The humans all recovered, as did the 13-year-old
Iowa cat and both Beijing dogs. The 10-year-old Oregon cat, one of
the Oregon ferrets, and one of the Nebraska ferrets died.
By early December H1N1-2009 had also been discovered among
turkeys in Canada, Chile, and Virginia, and in a captive cheetah
in California. “One almost gets the feeling that H1N1-2009 is a case
of seek and you shall find,” suggested ProMed infectious disease
moderator Tam Garland.
Added David Thomson, an animal health specialist for the
Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Papua New Guinea, “H1N1-2009
appears to be crossing rather easily to multiple species, including
both mammals and birds after apparently minimal exposure. It seems
to be capable of immediate transmission amongst at least pigs and
turkeys after apparently crossing from humans. This latter feature
may be of relatively high significance when one considers the
potential for reassortment-based viral mutations.”
The major epidemiological concern associated with H1N1 is
that while it is a relatively mild flu strain, it may mix with the
much deadlier but not easily transmitted H5N1 avian flu to produce a
strain which is both fast-spreading and deadly.
However, the mixing is most likely to occur in species that
easily transmit influenzas, such as humans, pigs, and birds–and
is relatively unlikely to occur in apparent dead-end hosts, such as
cats, ferrets, and dogs.