H1N1 Influenza Information

General Resources

The American Veterinary Medical Association has posted on their website Frequently Asked Questions about H1N1 in companion animals.

2009 H1N1 in Companion Animals - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers information on H1N1 in companion animals.

Zoonotic Disease - Zoonotic diseases (also called zoonoses) are infectious diseases that can be spread from animals to humans.

USDA H1N1 Flu Collection

WHO Pandemic (H1N1) 2009: media & message maps

Breaking News

December 2009

December 17, 2009: USDA Study Confirms Pork From Pigs Exposed To H1N1 Virus Is Safe To Eat (pdf)

12/22/09 - IDEXX Laboratories has confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza virus in a dog in Bedford Hills, New York.

A 13-year old dog became ill after its owner was ill with confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza. Read the full story.

12/10/09 - AVMA reports two cats dead from H1N1 Influenza.

A 12 year cat in Pennsylvania and an 8 year old cat in Oregon confirmed dead from H1N1. Read the latest information on the AVMA website.

12/2/09 - H1N1 update: Chinese dogs, Va. turkeys and Calif. cheetah

The USDA has confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza virus in a turkey breeder flock in Virginia. This is the first detection of the virus H1N1 in U.S. turkeys. Canada and Chile have already had cases in domestic turkeys. A worker at the Virginia farm had been sent home with flu-like symptoms, and has been identified as the possible source of infection.

Also on the USDA’s updated list is a cheetah in California that has tested presumptive positive for 2009 H1N1. We are currently communicating with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) to obtain more information and develop resources for veterinarians and the public.

On November 28, Xinhua (Chinese press) reported that two (2) dogs in Beijing tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 virus. We have not been able to confirm this report. We have contacted sources in China, requesting additional information about the history, signalment, clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment and outcome of these cases, but have not yet received the information.

At this time, the messages to clients remain largely the same:

  • This is not cause for panic, but underscores the importance of taking pets to a veterinarian if they are showing signs of illness. This is especially important if someone in the household has recently been ill with flu-like symptoms.
  • Ferret and cat owners should remain vigilant.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that pets have or will spread the virus to humans or other animals. To date, all of the sick pets became ill after a person in the household was ill with flu-like symptoms.
  • There have not been any confirmed cases of U.S. dogs infected with the virus, but because of the Chinese reports we know it may be possible for dogs to become infected.
  • Proper hygiene and sanitation measures should be followed to limit the spread of the influenza virus.
  • Turkey and pork are still safe to eat. Nonetheless, proper food hygiene and preparation are very important when it comes to protecting your family from any foodborne illness.
  • It is safe to visit zoos. 

Information about these cases will be updated regularly. Resources can be found at http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus/default.asp.

November 2009


Three more ferrets diagnosed with pandemic influenza H1N1
November 10, 2009 

Three more ferrets in Oregon have tested positive for the 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 virus, state officials confirmed this afternoon, bringing the total number of cases affecting ferrets in the state to four.

November 9, 2009

The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University can currently test multiple species for 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. In addition to swine, WADDL has received approval from USDA to use the swine assay on cat and ferret samples. Other companion animals may be tested based on risk of infection and by approval from WADDL on a case-by-case basis.

Samples for testing should be nasal or pharyngeal swabs. The swabs should be placed in a sterile tube with a few drops of saline. Do not use bacterial transport medium.

Post-mortem examination and/or tissue submission for 2009 H1N1 testing taken from deceased animals other than swine should be coordinated by first calling WADDL at (509) 335-9696, to discuss sample submission and other essential details.

If a 2009 H1N1 test conducted in WADDL is positive, the sample will be sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, for confirmatory testing. Veterinarians and regulatory agencies, including USDA, Washington State Department of Agriculture, and Washington State Department of Health, will be notified of the presumptive positive result, and of the final result from NVSL.

Additional important information including frequently asked questions can be found at: http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus/default.asp.

AVMA updates H1N1 flu resources for pet owners, veterinarians

(SCHAUMBURG, Ill.) November 5, 2009—Since the news broke of a housecat in Iowa testing positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, pet owners and veterinarians alike have been scrambling to learn more: Can my pet get sick? What would the symptoms of H1N1 in cats be? How is it identified? How is it treated?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has been in constant contact with experts and agencies across the country to learn more about this case and share this information with the public and veterinarians. The results of these efforts are now available on the AVMA’s Web site, where those wanting to learn more can access continuously updated “Frequently Asked Questions” on the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, how the virus might affect pets, and what veterinarians should know when talking with clients and treating patients.

These resources, along with additional, frequently updated information on H1N1, are available on the AVMA’s Web site at www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus.  

For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA media relations assistant, at 847-285-6687 (office), 847-732-6194 (cell), or msanfilippo@avma.org.  

October 2009

Oregon Ferret Tests Positive for H1N1 Virus

On October 5, 2009, a client brought a ferret to a Portland veterinary hospital. The ferret had been exhibiting weakness followed by sneezing, coughing, and an elevated temperature.

Because the client and her children previously had symptoms compatible with influenza, the attending veterinarian consulted with Dr. Emilio DeBess, Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian, and both agreed to test the ferret's nasal secretions for influenza.

On October 8, 2009, Oregon State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory presumptively diagnosed pandemic influenza H1N1 by PCR from the nasal secretions of the ferret. On October 9, 2009, pandemic influenza H1N1 was confirmed at the National Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The ferret is recovering.

Ferret owners should be cautious as we enter this year's flu season. Ferrets are generally susceptible to influenza A viruses under which H1N1 is classified.

If your ferret starts to exhibit signs of a respiratory illness or lethargy, the animal should be examined by your veterinarian.

Because of the immunosuppressive effects of influenza, bacterial infection may be of concern. If discharge from the nose or eyes becomes discolored (yellow or green), or if your ferret is coughing, contact your veterinarian.

As with people, treatment is supportive, which means treating the symptoms and letting the virus run its course.

Once a diagnosis is made, your veterinarian may be able to suggest medications to make the ferret more comfortable. You must also ensure that your ferret remains hydrated. If your ferret is very lethargic or off food and water (monitor closely), treatment with fluids and/or force feeding may be necessary.

Minnesota Pig Positive for H1N1

At least one pig from Minnesota has tested positive for the H1N1 virus, the first confirmed case in the US swine population. This confirms a preliminary diagnosis of H1N1 pandemic influenza virus in swine samples collected during the 2009 Minnesota State Fair between August 26 and September 1.

Consumers are reminded that they cannot catch the influenza virus from eating pork.

H1N1 and Other Animals

Dogs & Cats
Neither dogs nor cats are considered to be susceptible to H1N1 influenza. Canine influenza, which is a different influenza strain (H3N8), is not known to be transmissible to humans.

In August 2009, the pandemic H1N1 virus was detected in turkeys in two farms near the seaport of Valparaiso, Chile. The detection followed a decrease in both the laying rate and the egg shell quality in the flocks without noticeable mortality. Some birds had been in contact with persons with respiratory disease.

Pet Birds
Pet birds can also be susceptible to H1N1. Testing is recommended if the bird and owner both develop an influenza-like illness compatible with H1N1.

Pet Pigs
Follow standard flu prevention protocols when handling your pet pig. If you are concerned about your pet pig, please contact your veterinarian.

Key Points for Pet Owners

Standard techniques to prevent the spread of influenza are recommended. 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 or school if you are sick.

A human vaccine is now available. Refer to the CDC Web site for the most current official information on human cases.

There is no vaccine for domestic animals, such as ferrets, dogs, cats or birds.

Key Points for Veterinarians

The virus is a triple reassortant containing genes of human, avian and swine origin.

Wash your hands and wear gloves when necessary (this may be considered when handling animals with respiratory illness). Cover your cough to prevent exposing co-workers and your patients to any respiratory illness.

Recommendations for Swine Producers and Veterinarians

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians offers the following recommendations:

Swine workers should be vaccinated against the seasonal influenza viruses and receive priority for vaccination against any novel influenza viruses.

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.

Source: Oregon State Veterinary Medical Association

September 2009

H1N1 influenza risk for pregnant women
The Washington State Department of Health has issued recommendations for pregnant woman are at higher risk for severe complications than the general population. With cases of the H1N1 flu expected to increase, the WSDOH recommends that pregnant women with influenza get treated with antiviral medications and acetaminophen for fever as early as possible. Don’t wait for test results and watch closely for breathing problems or signs of pneumonia. The CDC recommends vaccination of the H1N1 vaccine for pregnant women when it becomes available.

AVMA News Release: Pandemic Preparedness for Veterinarians

May 2009

Update on H1N1 Influenza

According to a statement from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, swine from a herd in Alberta, Canada, have tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus currently causing illness in humans. A Canadian carpenter who had been in Mexico, upon return, was exhibiting flu-like symptoms. He works on an Alberta farm, and subsequently the family and swine on the farm became ill.

Now that the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus has infected swine, you may get questions from your clients and others about the disease. The American Veterinary Medical Association is sending you this e-mail in an effort to help you answer those questions.

Some key points relative to this situation are:

  • The virus has not been detected in any swine herds in the United States.
  • This is not a foodborne illness, and our food supply will remain safe, even if U.S. swine are found to be infected later.
  • There is no indication that the 2009 H1N1 virus has infected pets.

You can find extensive information about the virus on the AVMA website.

AVMA, Alert on 2009 H1N1 Influenza, 5/5/2009.

DNN Radio podcasts about H1N1 flu

While disaster response organizations monitor news about a potential flu
pandemic, the Rev. Kevin Massey, director of Lutheran Disaster Response,
says faith leaders should reach out to local public health officials and
share appropriate information about the potential threat of the H1N1 flu.

Dr. Richard M. Krieg, president of the Horizon Foundation of Columbia,
MD and a former Chicago public health official, discusses the potential
of the H1N1 (swine) flu and how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) have handled the response.

News Release - Texas Animal Health Commission

Wild Hogs: No Indication of Flu Danger

You may catch the flu from your sick hunting buddy, but there’s no evidence that you will catch it from domestic or wild hogs, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC). There is no evidence that the new strain of H1N1 influenza is in domestic or wild hogs. This disease is being spread from person to person.

“We are prepared to test hogs, if a human/animal disease link is identified. To date, there has been no indication that swine are involved,” said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas state veterinarian and head of the TAHC, the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. “We are participating on all calls with health and emergency officials, are monitoring the situation, and are consulting with local officials, but so far, there is no indication of animal-to-human disease spread.”

“Several hunters have asked about the safety of hunting wild hogs,” said Dr. Hillman. “To repeat, there is no evidence that wild hogs are involved in this flu outbreak. Always, however, we advise wild hog hunters to protect themselves against potential exposure to swine brucellosis, a totally different disease that is not related in any way to the flu. We know from test results that about 10 percent of wild hogs carry swine brucellosis, a bacterial disease.”

“When processing or butchering a wild hog, hunters should protect themselves against the blood and bodily fluids of wild hogs,” he said. “When the wild hog meat is cooked, any swine brucellosis bacteria is destroyed by the heat.”

Trappers who catch wild hogs and owners of domestic swine also should practice good biosecurity to prevent spreading the flu to pigs. “Don’t get around swine if you become ill, and avoid having visitors near your pigs,” said Dr. Hillman. “Have someone else feed the animals if you become ill with flu-like symptoms. Notify your health department or the TAHC so your pigs can be monitored for disease. Also, as a basic biosecurity measure, you should always wash your hands after handling animals.”

Dr. Hillman said wild hog trappers and domestic swine owners should call their veterinarian if their swine develop a sudden onset of respiratory illness. The nearest TAHC area office or TAHC headquarters also should be notified so testing can be conducted according to the flu response protocol. The TAHC headquarters may be reached at 800-550-8242.

April 2009

Alert level raised for new influenza virus - The WHO has raised the pandemic alert level from 4 to 5 for the new H1N1 influenza virus. 

Swine flu and Washington Veterinarians

April 28, 2009

Currently, world disease experts are dealing with an outbreak of human-to-human transmitted H1N1 influenza, known by the misnomer of Swine Flu. Here’s what you need to know:

1. There is no reported case of this virus occurring in any animal anywhere at this time. The disease remains limited to human-to-human transmission and presents a potential risk to swine populations from humans.

2. The CDC has determined that this new flu virus contains genetic pieces from four different virus sources. The virus consists of North American swine influenza viruses, North American avian influenza viruses, human influenza viruses and swine influenza viruses found in both Asia and Europe. This is perhaps where the name originated.

3. Swine operations in Washington are best served by following strict biosafety precautions as advised by their producer groups and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

4. The best sources of information for this disease in humans at this time are:

For general information on swine influenza, general health information guidelines, updates on the status of the human swine influenza outbreak, and travel advisories:

5. For those with additional concerns, consider:

(Content on the page updates automatically and contains information from multiple web sites in one location CDC, health, maps, RSS news feeds and more. National Swine Flu Situation Page (tm).

6. You can embed the National Swine Flu Situation Page into your clinic’s website. Use the embed link given in #5 above to get embed code for your web site.

7. The Emergency Email & Wireless Network is available free of charge.

8. Washington State University’s School for Global Animal Health (SGAH) is able to conduct heightened surveillance for diseases that occur at the interface of humans and animals. As a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, Washington’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) has prepared for heightened surveillance and testing during the current outbreak of Swine Influenza. All tests for this strain of influenza virus as it occurs in animals are currently available by contacting WADDL at (509) 335-9696 or via the website.

Swine flu information from Thurston County Public Health

Talking Points

General Public Links

Medical Provider Communication

Washington State Department of Health Swine flu information

Public Information Line with Swine Flu Message: 360-709-3080

Additional Helpful Information on Swine Flu

AAHA Links

Alltop news coverage of Swine Flu (H1N1 virus)

AVMA Frequently Asked Questions

CDC for human health updates

Pork Magazine - H1N1 Influenza Updates

Pro-Med Mail

The United States Animal Health Association

EDEN (Extension Disaster Education Network)

Swine Producer Resources

Letter to: Swine Producers from the Wash State Dept of Ag.

For swine producers, the National Pork Board has issued some enhanced biosecurity steps.


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