Saturday, May 16, 2009

Can You Get Swine Flu From Your Dog or Cat?

By Stacy Mantle

There are a few things to worry about getting from your pets these days, but according to the CDC, Swine flu (H1N1) is not one of them. Dogs are susceptible to the “canine influenza virus” - a specific Type A influenza virus known as the H3N8 influenza virus. This is NOT something that humans can come down with as it is a species-specific virus.

Cats Flu is a name used to identify a group of viruses, which affect the upper respiratory tract in cats. Felines are known to obtain Upper Respiratory Infections (URI’s), which is most commonly caused by the Feline Herpes Virus-1 (FHV-1), or Feline Calicivirus (FCV).

Most diseases and viruses are “species-specific,” with only a few exceptions. Visit the CDC website to see a complete list of “diseases that people and pets can transmit.”

Dr. Michael Watts says it best, “The current ‘swine’ flu outbreak is not technically a “pig virus.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has determined that the new influenza A (H1N1) strain contains genetic material from four different viruses. One is a swine influenza commonly found in North America. The others are a human influenza virus, a North American avian influenza virus, and another pig influenza more typically found in Europe and Asia.”

Bird Flu
As far as the Bird Flu goes, the CDC has this to say on the subject, “Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). There are 16 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 9 different neuraminidase subtypes, all of which have been found among influenza A viruses in wild birds. Wild birds are the primary natural reservoir for all subtypes of influenza A viruses and are thought to be the source of influenza A viruses in all other animals. Most influenza viruses cause asymptomatic or mild infection in birds; however, the range of symptoms in birds varies greatly depending on the strain of virus. Infection with certain avian influenza A viruses (for example, some strains of H5 and H7 viruses) can cause widespread disease and death among some species of wild and especially domestic birds such as chickens and turkeys.”

No Reason to Worry
Bottom line is that with the current outbreak of H1N1, neither your dogs or cats can get it or be carriers of the virus. Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t ever worry. Part of the panic with the H1N1 virus is that it appears to have the ability to mutate. It still could. It probably won’t, but really you’re far more likely to get hit by a meteorite than to pick up the H1N1 virus from your pet.

Read more articles by Stacy Mantle

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