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Veterinary Forum November 2009 (Vol 26, No 11)

H1N1 flu confirmed in Iowa cat and Oregon ferrets

by Marie Rosenthal

    UPDATE: The Oregon state public health veterinarian has reported that the cat in Oregon has died from presumed 2009 H1N1 influenza virus infection. Samples were obtained and tested (PCR) positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. Additional samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for confirmation and are still pending.

    SCHAUMBURG, ILA cat in Iowa and three ferrets in Oregon have tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.

    This is the first time a cat has been diagnosed with this strain of influenza. The cat, which has recovered, is believed to have contracted the virus from someone in the household who was sick with H1N1. There are no indications that the cat passed the virus on to any other animals or people.

    In Oregon, four ferrets have now tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus. Dr. Emilio DeBess, the Oregon state public health veterinarian, says the ferrets that tested positive for the H1N1 virus are among a group of nine ferrets that live with a family in the Roseburg area. All nine ferrets, DeBess said, exhibited flu-like symptoms, but only three were taken to the veterinarian. Those three tested positive.

    DeBess says members of the family that owns the ferrets were sick with flu-like symptoms 1 week before the animal showed signs of illness. He adds that there are no indications that the ferrets passed the virus on to people or any other species of animal.

    The first ferret in Oregon confirmed with the 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 virus was diagnosed in early October. All of the sick ferrets have recovered.

    The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus has also been found in humans, pigs and birds. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding pet owners that some viruses can pass between people and animals. Pet owners should monitor their pets' health very closely, no matter what type of animal, and visit a veterinarian if there are any signs of illness.

    The AVMA is actively tracking all instances of H1N1 in animals and posting updates at www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus.

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