This article will hopefully shed some light on what we know about the H1N1 virus in animals.
We now know that this virus does pass from people to some domestic animals. There was recently reported a cat in Lebanon, Oregon that died due to pneumonia caused by the H1N1 virus. The cat was 13 years old, was an indoor only cat and was living with a human who had been diagnosed with the virus. There is no evidence yet that the virus has gone from domestic animals to humans. This possibility cannot be entirely ruled out but it has not been documented. The virus has also recently been isolated in turkeys and one unconfirmed case in a dog.
The H1N1 was originally named the “Swine Flu” because of its genetic similarity to a flu virus that was isolated from pigs. However, it is unfortunate that pigs were implicated as a source of infection to humans since this has never been proven.
Symptoms in dogs and cats will most likely have respiratory symptoms but they may also just have general malaise or loss of appetite. There is now a test for H1N1 that is available through a commonly used veterinary laboratory. If you see these symptoms in your dog or cat and they may have been recently exposed to a human case of H1N1 then consult your veterinarian.
Information on this virus is rapidly unfolding and changing. I hope this article has given you some valuable information and I will try to update it as more is known.