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Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Date:11/4/2009

Recent reports of H1N1 in a cat or pigs are likely very rare, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- When the news broke on Wednesday that a domestic cat had come down with H1N1 swine flu, probably transmitted to the feline by sick owners, many people no doubt wondered how vulnerable their own pets were to the illness.

So, does Fluffy or Fido need protecting from this strain of flu? The answer, experts say, is basically no.

While the H1N1 flu currently circulating can jump easily from person to person, it does not travel well from humans to animals or animals to humans, except in a few rare instances.

"This really is not a practical issue at this point," said Dr. Chris Olsen, a professor of public health and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. "Is that to say it's not possible? No."

And even when inter-species transmissions do occur, the H1N1 virus seems more likely to move from humans to animals, rather than the other way around.

As reported Wednesday by the Associated Press, veterinarians at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine announced the first laboratory-confirmed case of H1N1 infection in a cat. Veterinarian Dr. Brett Sponseller said two of three people who lived in the house with the 13-year-old feline had shown flu-like symptoms before the animal became ill. The cat was treated and has since recovered, the AP said.

Olsen said there have also been reports of the virus crossing from humans to livestock -- in particular pigs and turkeys and mostly in agricultural settings.

There have been instances "where the current pandemic virus has been isolated from pigs [the first identified at the Minnesota state fair in August], and [some] instances from turkeys. But, in all of those cases, it's quite clear that the person was the source of infection for the animals, not the o
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