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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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