H1N1: Information for Veterinarians & the Practice Team

H1N1 Case Updates

A breakdown of H1N1 cases by species, as well as other developments, is available here.

Recommendations for Veterinarians and the Practice Team

It appears that in the current cases, humans are transmitting the H1N1 virus to animals. However, Dr. Emilio DeBess, Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian, cautions veterinarians and their practice teams that it may be possible for ferrets or cats to transmit the H1N1 virus to humans.

It is best to protect yourself and your staff when any animal presents to your office with an influenza-like illness. Wash your hands frequently and after examining animals with influenza-like illness. Veterinarians and veterinary staff should consider the use of facial protection covering their mouth, nose and eyes. You may wish to refer to the Compendium of Veterinary Standard Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel for guidance.

If you are sick, cover your cough and follow general recommendations to prevent exposing co-workers and your patients to any respiratory illness. 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 if you are sick.

Work-Related H1N1 Cases Now Reportable to OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has made a statement on its web site that "Employers are responsible for recording cases of 2009 H1N1 illness if all of the following requirements are met: (1) the case is a confirmed case of 2009 H1N1 illness as defined by CDC; (2) the case is work-related as defined by 1904.5; and (3) the case involves one or more of the recording criteria set forth in 1904.7 (e.g., medical treatment, days away from work). Per CPL-02-02-075." This applies to all establishments covered by PART 1904, which includes the majority of veterinary practices. Prior to this notice, 2009 H1N1 was not reportable. Seasonal flu illnesses remain non-reportable.

Diagnosis

In the event that an animal is presented to your clinc with influenza-like illness (fever, cough/sneeze and nasal discharge) and there is a history of influenza-like illness in the household in the week prior to the animal's illness, you may want to consider pandemic H1N1 in your differential diagnosis.

IDEXX Offers H1N1 PCR Test for Dogs & Cats

IDEXX Reference Laboratories introduces its latest RealPCR™ test for canine and feline H1N1 influenza virus. The IDEXX H1N1 Influenza Virus RealPCR™ Test is offered in response to concern about the spread of this disease, helping veterinarians diagnose and manage patients with suspected respiratory infection.

Veterinarians should consider running the H1N1 Influenza Virus RealPCR Test on patients with suspected respiratory disease or those with suspected H1N1 infection. Given the short shedding period of influenza viruses, samples should be submitted for testing within 7 days of the onset of clinical signs to avoid false-negative results. Test results are typically available within 72 hours.

The IDEXX H1N1 Influenza Virus RealPCR Test is included with the Feline Upper Respiratory Disease (URD) and Canine Respiratory Disease (CRD) RealPCR panels at no additional cost. A stand-alone test is also available. Contact IDEXX for more information (888-433-9987, option 4, option 2) or visit www.idexx.com/pcr.

OSU VDL Testing: Forms and Requirements

Before submitting a sample for testing, please note the above paragraph on diagnosis. Samples submitted for animals showing signs of influenza/respiratory illness but without concurrent or recent human influenza-like illness in the household may not be tested.

Two forms are required with sample submission, as noted below.

Oregon State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is able to test nasal secretions of ferrets, birds, dogs, and cats. Sample collected should be of the respiratory secretion with a Dacron culturette. The sample should be placed in 1-2 mls of sterile saline in a sealable container. A red top blood collection tube will work. No blood samples in acute cases of influenza will be accepted. For more information about sample collection requirements, please contact OSU VDL at (541) 737-2172.

If you plan to submit a sample for testing, you must also submit the following form to Dr. Emilio DeBess, State Public Health Veterinarian, to assist him in assessing which samples will be tested and in tracking possible cases.

Client Education

The OVMA has prepared the following client education handout for use in your practice. It will be updated and a new version will be made available as events warrant:

Recommendations for Swine Producers and Their Veterinarians

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.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians offers the following recommendations:

Producers should emphasize good on-farm biosecurity practices. Appropriate precautions (including hand-washing, mask and gloves during necropsies, personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators and goggles, etc.) should be implemented to minimize the risk of infection and disease transmission.

Continue current swine influenza vaccinations to control clinical signs of disease in pigs and utilize vaccines against the novel H1N1 if shown to reduce viral shedding and the risk of transmission to pork production personnel.

Support the USDA's swine influenza surveillance program designed to detect novel influenza viruses including the pandemic H1N1. The AASV encourages its members to submit samples from pigs exhibiting influenza-like illness (lethargy, inappetence, fever, nasal/ocular discharge, sneezing, and coughing) to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for differential testing. Also, pigs exhibiting clinical signs of illness should not be shipped to slaughter until the clinical signs have resolved.

Published: December 16, 2009;    Updated:

Filed Under: Medical

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