First case of H1N1 Swine Flu confirmed in New York dog; what to watch for

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A New York dog has contracted the first confirmed case of the H1N1 Swine Flu virus to occur in domesticated U.S. dogs, according to a recent CBS News report.

Though the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) had previously recorded cases of the Swine Flu occurring in cats, ferrets and poultry, no U.S. cases of human-to-dog transmission had been confirmed until now.

The 13-year-old mixed breed male, which is recovering, apparently caught the virus from its owner. But Michael San Filippo, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, said there’s no evidence that the flu strain can be transmitted from a pet to a person.

“In theory it could happen, but so far it’s really looking like a dead end in pets,” he said. (CBS News)

According to the AVMA’s Swine Flu FAQ sheet, pet parents shouldn’t panic or consider giving up their pets for fear of infection. So help spread the word to other pet parents!

You are much more likely to catch the flu (any type of flu, including the 2009 H1N1 flu) from an infected person than you are from an animal. So far, all of the pets infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus became infected from being around their ill owners. (AVMA Swine Flu FAQ sheet)

Experts are still unsure how serious the Swine Flu strain is in dogs
and cats, due to the relatively small number of confirmed cases. While
the New York dog is recovering, fatalities have been reported in both
cats and ferrets.

Get flu symptoms and prevention tips after the jump.

According to the AVMA, Swine Flu symptoms in pets often resemble respiratory infections including:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Runny nose and/or eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Changes in breathing or difficulty breathing

Pet parents who suspect they are infected with the flu should practice the same precautions with their pets as they would with any other members of their families.

Here some suggestions for Swine Flu prevention from the Center for Disease Control:

  • Limit other’s exposure to sick individuals.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Put used tissues immediately in the trash.
  • Wash hands frequently, particularly after coughing or sneezing.

Of course, if your pet starts displaying any of the symptoms mentioned or you notice any unusual changes in your pet’s behavior, you should consult your veterinarian. And if you yourself have flu symptoms, to protect yourself — and your pet — see your physician.

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