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H1N1 & Animals: New York Dog Confirmed First US H1N1 Canine Case

New York Dog First Confirmed US H1N1 Canine Case

IDEXX Laboratories has confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza virus in a dog in Bedford Hills, New York. A 13-year old dog became ill after its owner was ill with confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza. The dog was lethargic, coughing, not eating, and had a fever. X-rays showed evidence of pneumonia. The dog was treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, nebulization and other supportive care, and was discharged from the hospital after 48 hours of care. It is currently recovering. Tests submitted to IDEXX Laboratories were negative for canine influenza (H3N8) but positive for 2009 H1N1 influenza. The results were confirmed by the Iowa State Laboratory.

This case follows an earlier report of two dogs in Beijing, China testing positive for the H1N1 virus.

Per Chinese media, the veterinary clinic of College of Veterinary Medicine at the China Agricultural University report that two out of 52 samples from sick dogs were tested positive for the H1N1 flu virus.

Canine influenza (H3N8) is a different influenza strain which is not known to be transmissible to humans.

Second Oregon Cat Positive for H1N1 Virus Has Died, Three Feline Fatalities Nationwide

On November 24, the owner brought an 8 year old female cat to a veterinary clinic on the Oregon coast. The cat showed signs of severe weakness and pain. According to the owner, the cat had a history of allergies and sneezing with nasal discharge and chronic sinusitis. The cat was hypothermic, dehydrated, weak, and had nasal discharge and blue-tinged mucous membranes. X-rays showed severe pneumonia and fluid accumulation in the cat's chest.

Despite supportive care and treatment with oseltamivir (Tamiflu), the cat died the evening of November 24. The cat's owner had previously been ill with severe respiratory disease and was confirmed to be infected with the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.

A nasal discharge sample was collected and tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus by the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

In a previous Oregon case, a 10-year-old male cat was brought to Animal Clinic in Lebanon, Oregon in early November with labored breathing.

A member of the family had been sick with influenza-like illness approximately one week earlier. On initial examination, the cat's temperature was 101.7 F. There was no coughing or sneezing and its respiration was rapid and shallow. Radiographs were taken and revealed results consistent with pneumonia.

On November 5, 2009, the cat's respiratory rate worsened. The cat was admitted and treated with oxygen and medication. On November 7, 2009, the cat died.

Oregon State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory presumptively diagnosed 2009 H1N1 influenza by PCR from the nasal secretions of the cat. National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed this result.

It is believed that these are the first feline H1N1 case fatalities in the country. A cat in Pennsylvania has since reported to have died from the virus and related pneumonia.

Other Cases

There have been other confirmed cases of H1N1 infection in cats in the US, as well as a confirmed case in a cat in France. In addition to the Oregon case, there have been other cases in cats in California (1), Colorado (2), Iowa (1), Utah (1) and Pennsylvania (2). One of the cats in Pennsylvania died, but the other cats have recovered.

Transmission

In these cases it is believed that the cats caught the virus from humans in their households who were sick with influenza-like illness. If you or other members of your household have influenza-like symptoms, wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand cleaners, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze, and avoiding touching your cat's eyes, nose and mouth while you are sick.

Dr. Emilio DeBess, Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian, cautions owners and veterinarians that it may be possible for cats to transmit this virus to humans. Coughing and sneezing can spread the virus which can remain infectious for about a week outside the body.

Symptoms

Despite the unfortunate outcome in these cases, the number of confirmed cases of H1N1 infection in cats is quite small compared to the US cat population, estimated at 81 million.

Watch your cat for symptoms and seek veterinary care if your cat shows signs of respiratory illness, especially if your cat has experienced chronic respiratory diease.

Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, lethargy, or conjunctivitis (swelling and redness of the membranes around the eyes).

In these instances, your cat should be examined by your veterinarian, especially if there is a recent history of influenza-like illness in the household

Treatment

As with people, treatment is supportive, which means treating the symptoms and letting the virus run its course. If a diagnosis of respiratory illness is made, your veterinarian can suggest medications and treatment to make your cat more comfortable.

5 Oregon Ferrets Positive for H1N1 Virus

Case 1

The first documented case of natural transmission of the H1N1 virus to a ferret was in a Portland, Oregon ferret.

On October 5, 2009, a client brought a ferret to a Portland, Oregon veterinary hospital. The ferret had been exhibiting weakness followed by sneezing, coughing, and an elevated temperature.

Because the client previously had symptoms compatible with influenza, the attending veterinarian consulted with Dr. Emilio DeBess, Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian, and both agreed to test the ferret's nasal secretions for influenza.

On October 8, 2009, Oregon State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory presumptively diagnosed pandemic influenza H1N1 by PCR from the nasal secretions of the ferret.

On October 9, 2009, the result was confirmed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

Contrary to published media reports, which stated that this Oregon ferret had died, it has, in fact, recovered.

Cases 2 - 4

In late October 2009, a client presented three of nine owned ferrets who had become ill with an influenza-like illness to a veterinarian in the Roseburg area. The family had human patients with influenza-like illness about a week prior to onset of illness in the ferrets.

Two of the three ferrets presented with fevers (temperature above 103 F), sneezing, coughing and had nasal discharge. Not all ferrets became ill at the same time, but 2 - 3 days after the initial two cases. Nasal discharge samples were collected on October 27, 2009 and were later reported as positive for Influenza A. 

Further testing at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the isolates as pandemic influenza H1N1. The other ferrets were not tested, but it is believed they may have had the virus as well.

All nine ferrets have recovered.

Case 5

A 6 year old ferret was brought to a veterinarian in Springfield, Oregon on November 23, 2009 with coughing, sneezing, clean nasal discharge, and inappropriate urination. The family had had influenza-like illness the week prior to the onset of illness in the ferret.

A sample of the nasal discharge was collected and tested positive for H1N1 at Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The ferret is recovering.

Other Cases

A Nebraska ferret positive for the H1N1 virus died.

Transmission

In these cases it is believed that the ferrets caught the virus from humans in their households who were sick with influenza-like illness. If you or other members of your household have influenza-like symptoms, wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand cleaners, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze, and avoiding touching your cat's eyes, nose and mouth while you are sick.

Dr. Emilio DeBess, Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian, cautions owners and veterinarians that it may be possible for ferrets or cats to transmit this virus to humans. Coughing and sneezing can spread the virus which can remain infectious for about a week outside the body.

Symptoms

If your ferret starts to exhibit signs of a respiratory illness or lethargy, the animal should be examined by your veterinarian.

Because of the immunosuppressive effects of influenza, bacterial infection may be of concern. If discharge from the nose or eyes becomes discolored (yellow or green), or if your ferret is coughing, contact your veterinarian.

Treatment

Once a diagnosis is made, your veterinarian may be able to suggest medications to make the ferret more comfortable. You must also ensure that your ferret remains hydrated. If your ferret is very lethargic or off food and water (monitor closely), treatment with fluids and/or force feeding may be necessary.

H1N1 and Other Animals

Birds & Poultry

The pandemic H1N1 virus has been detected in a turkey breeder flocks in Virginia and California. Consumers are reminded that they cannot catch the influenza virus from eating turkey.

Backyard poultry could potentially be at risk of H1N1 transmission from humans. 

Pet Birds

Pet birds can also be susceptible to H1N1. Testing is recommended if the bird and owner both develop an influenza-like illness compatible with H1N1.

Swine

There have been confirmed cases of H1N1 in the US swine population. Consumers are reminded that they cannot catch the influenza virus from eating pork. The USDA has granted a conditional license to Pfizer Animal Health for a pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine intended to vaccinate pigs. This is the first pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine license issued by USDA.

Pet Pigs

Because swine are susceptible to this virus, follow standard flu prevention protocols when handling your pet pig. If you are concerned about your pet pig's health, please contact your veterinarian.

Cheetah

Per the USDA, a cheetah at the Safari West Wildlife Preserve in California has tested positive for the virus.

Key Points for Pet Owners

Prevention

The number of confirmed cases of H1N1 infection in domestic animals is quite small compared to the overall US pet population.

Standard techniques to prevent the spread of influenza are recommended. These include hand-washing and using alcohol-based hand cleaners, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people and stay home from work or school if you are sick. If you are sick, you may want to limit contact with your domestic pet, bird or backyard poultry until you are well.

Vaccines

A human vaccine is available. Refer to the CDC Web site for the most current official information on human cases. Pet owners may wish to consult with their physicians to see if they are a candidate to receive the H1N1 vaccine.

There is no vaccine for domestic animals, such as ferrets, dogs, cats or birds. A vaccine for swine has received conditional approval from the USDA.