We’ve heard the swine flu can infect animals like turkeys, minks and pigs. If you’ve got a pet cat or ferret, they could be vulnerable to the virus, too! According to the Associated Press, the first case of swine flu in pets was a 13-year-old tabby cat. The owners brought him to the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine because he wasn’t eating, was lethargic and having trouble breathing. When they mentioned they’d had flu symptoms the week before, vets tested the cat for H1N1, and to everyone’s surprise, he tested positive. Since then, cats in Iowa, Utah, and Pennsylvania tested positive – but they’ve all recovered.
So far, there have been no cases of the swine flu in dogs or birds. However, swine flu sickened a cheetah in a zoo in California, and at least five pet ferrets in Nebraska and Oregon tested positive, and one died. Dr. Kristy Pabionia is from the Colorado State University Department of Veterinary Medicine. She says there’s no reason to panic. The swine flu is just the latest disease that can spread between animals and humans, like ringworm, salmonella, rabies, and the plague. Also, there’s no evidence that you can get the swine flu from your pet, but they can get the swine flu from you.
So, how can you protect your pets? Follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control: Keep your hands clean, cover your coughs, and take your shoes off to limit their exposure to outside germs. If you get sick, avoid close contact with your pets until you’re better. Also, keep your pets up-to-date on vaccinations for other diseases. Also, keep an eye out for the symptoms of swine flu in animals, which include lethargy, decreased appetite, runny nose and eyes, sneezing, coughing and changes in breathing patterns. Finally, don’t share human meds with your pets! One flu dose does not fit all – and the cure could be as dangerous to your pet as the disease.