Reader Ann has a question: “Dr. Randolph, Question: Can cats get something similar to flu like dogs?
Influenza viruses are among the best at mutation. Their ability to change is the reason people need a different “flu shot” almost every year: the virus changes so much that one year’s immune system protection may not give cross-immunity to another year’s wild flu virus.
That said, chances are good that Canine Influenza mutated from another Influenza A virus to be able to create a whole new disease in a whole new species. As stated in the above-referenced article, naive immune systems leave newly-exposed victims susceptible.
Furthermore, we also know that influenza viruses are adaptable enough to cross “usual” species barriers. We have previously written about swine flu, H1N1, infecting cats, ferrets and dogs.
Will there be a true Feline Influenza someday? Only the Good Lord knows, but time has certainly proven influenza viruses sufficiently adaptable to do whatever they want!
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.