Cat Dies From Swine Flu

Yesterday reported the illness of multiple ferrets in the state of Oregon, confirmed to be caused by 2009 H1N1 (swine) influenza virus.

Today we hear from the same state that a cat has come down with swine flu, and succumbed.  The confirmation test is still pending.  Initial Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests were positive for H1N1.  The PCR test is considered to be extremely specific.  National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) are performing the confirmation test.

A child in the household was ill for about a week prior to the kitty showing signs of labored breathing.  There was neither coughing nor sneezing, but the cat’s veterinarian diagnosed pneumonia on November 4.  Over the next three days its condition deteriorated and on November 7 it died.  Post-mortem specimens were obtained for a confirmation test sent to the  National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL).

This was a four-cat household, and the other three cats in the home also became ill, but with clear signs of coughing and sneezing.  They have all recovered from their illnesses.  Specimens were taken and tested for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus; those results were negative.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has this advice for pet owners:  “This is not cause for panic, but underscores the importance of taking pets to a veterinarian if they are showing signs of illness.  This is especially important if someone in the household has recently been ill with flu-like symptoms. 
Ferret and cat owners should remain vigilant.
To date, all of the sick pets became ill after a person in the household was ill with flu-like symptoms.  There is no evidence to suggest that pets have or will spread the virus to humans or other animals.”

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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