With the flu season in full swing, many folks are wondering if this current strain of H1N1 swine flu may be an issue for their four-legged family members. The answer, according to pet experts, is a fairly straight-forward "No," depending on the health and smarts of their owners.
Although many pet owners began worrying early on, after reports started surfacing in early October about a handful of cats and ferrets testing positive for H1N1, the spread of swine flu actually began even sooner, in the summer among livestock (pigs and turkeys), says Dr. Chris Olsen, a public health professor and associate dean at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
To date, however, there have been no reported H1N1 cases among dogs in the U.S. The problem isn't Annie T. Cat or Larry and his ferret family passing on the flu to their Pet Parents. Fact is, it's the other way around...
The consensus among the experts suggests that humans sickened by H1N1 may be passing it on to their pets. What's more, an advisory from The Humane Society of the United States reports animals infected with H1N1 suffer from many of the same symptoms as do their owners (sneezing, coughing, lethargy and labored breathing, to name just a few).
The best ways to protect your pets from swine flu mirror those very same common-sense considerations you extend to other humans: Wash your hands often, especially before and after contact with sick two-legged members of your family, and, if you're sick, keep your distance from them until you're feeling better.
Pets can save your health and your life just by being their attention-starved selves. Don't forget to return the favor...
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