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Reemergence of H1N1 Influenza Virus in Cats Raises Concerns for Humans and Pets

03/01/2011
Author: Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Just when you thought it was again safe to sneeze without covering your face with your elbow, 2009 H1N1 has made a reemergence in cats infected by their human owner. The H1N1 influenza virus, previously known as swine flu, is now termed “North American Influenza” according the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). This labile virus wreaked havoc the health of many humans and a smaller number of animals in 2009-2010.

Recently, two Domestic Short Haired (DSH) cats in Wisconsin were diagnosed with H1N1 after showing clinical signs of respiratory disease (coughing, wheezing, gasping for air, sneezing, pale pink to purple gums, collapsing, lethargy, etc). Both cats were middle aged adults (six and eight years of age) and had been in close contact with their owner, who was reportedly ill from the influenza virus.

The six year old cat declined rapidly and was put to sleep, but the eight year old cat recovered until a relapse of illness led to euthanasia. The presence of the H1N1 virus was confirmed via IDEXX Laboratories’ Feline Upper Respiratory Disease (URD) RealPCR Panel in the six year old cat.

The eight year old cat tested negative for H1N1 on a sample taken at the time of euthanasia. Due to the short time the virus is shed in bodily secretions (saliva, nasal discharge, ocular and respiratory tract fluid) and can be detected, there is high likelihood the eight year old cat still may have been infected with and ultimately succumb to the complications secondary to the virus.

Read the press release from IDEXX.

Copyright of this article (2010) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney.  Opinions in this article are not necessarily those of the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

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In this podcast we are wrapping up our “Old Dogs Rule” educational series with a difficult, but important conversation about end of life care. We are very fortunate to feature Dr. Kathleen Cooney, founder of “Home to Heaven,” an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia services practice. She is also the owner of the first-ever pet euthanasia center in the United States. The center is located on her 35-acre farm in Loveland, Colorado and offers two comfort rooms for pet euthanasia. It is open year-round for families looking for an alternative to standard clinic or in-home euthanasia. Dr. Cooney graduated from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine in the spring of 2004. That same spring, her family had to say goodbye to their 15-year-old yellow lab, McKenzie. McKenzie passed peacefully under the aspen tree in their front yard. From this experience, Dr. Cooney learned just how important it was for pets to be at home for the end of their lives. In 2012, she completed writing the book “Veterinary Euthanasia Techniques: A practical guide.” Dr. Cooney served on the 2013 American Veterinary Medical Association's panel on euthanasia guidelines. She is currently the Vice President and conference coordinator for the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). She travels frequently to speak on her work and on the current advancements in end-of-life care.

This podcast was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, A KeyBank Trust.


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