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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oregon cat died of H1N1


The country's first fatal case of swine flu in a cat occurred in Oregon this month.
On Nov. 4, a 10-year-old male cat was brought to the Animal Clinic in Lebanon with rapid, shallow breathing. The cat's temperature was 101.7 degrees, but it was not coughing or sneezing. X-ray results were consistent with pneumonia. The next day, the cat's symptoms got worse. It died on Nov. 7, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association announced today.
The Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory found that the cat carried the H1N1 virus. While this is the third confirmed case of a cat with H1N1, it is the first feline fatality nationwide. The other two cats with swine flu -- one in Iowa, one in Utah-- recovered.
Three other cats in the Oregon household also became ill, sneezing and coughing. Swab samples were collected, but none of the other cats was found to be infected with H1N1. It is safe to assume that the cat that died caught the virus from human family members.
If you or other members of your household are ill with influenza-like symptoms, wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand cleaners, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze and avoid touching your cat's eyes, nose and mouth while sick.
It may be possible for cats to transmit this virus to humans, said Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian Emilio DeBess. Coughing and sneezing can spread the virus which can remain infectious for about a week outside the body.
While the outcome of this case is tragic, cat owners shouldn't panic. The number of confirmed cases of H1N1 infection in cats is very small compared to the total cat population. But if someone in your household has been diagnosed with H1N1, and your cat shows symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing or coughing, take it to a vet.

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