Pets can get H1N1 from owners - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pets can get H1N1 from owners

DUBUQUE (KWWL) - Humans have been vaccinating themselves from influenza for years, but what about our pets? A cat in ames is believed to be the first feline in the country to catch H1N1. The 13-year old cat was treated and released but is believed to have contracted the virus from it's owner, who had H1N1.

Prior to this case, it was thought that humans could not pass the virus to their pets. Now that's all changing. Veterinarian and pet owner Joan McCleary has seen a lot of concerned patients lately.

"They can get respiratory virus' like we do, kennel cough, and actually the flu is just a more severe version of the kennel cough," said McCleary.

With a rise in H1N1 cases McCleary's seen a number of pets whose owners have been sick.

"We're getting anywhere from sneezing to vomiting to diarrhea. And I think kind of similar to what they're seeing along the human line, not eating," said McCleary.

Believe it or not pets are contracting the flu from their owners. So what happens if you're sick? McCleary says you should treat you pet much like a human. Clean your hands, cough or sneeze in your sleeve and avoid close contact with your pet. If you pet gets sick, there's not way to confirm it.

"We're seeing it we just don't have the testing for it at this time to confirm it. So we're just going to treat it similar to what people are doing," said McCleary.

The treatment for a pet with the flu is the same, lots of fluids, rest and keep them away from people. The good news, pets can not pass the virus along to humans. Vets say the canine flu is similar to human flu, in that death occurs if there are other underlying health conditions. There's no pet vaccine for H1N1, but there is a pet vaccine for a strain of canine flu.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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