Two dogs were reported yesterday to be infected with the H1N1 influenza virus, according to the China Daily news. The dogs were both located in Beijing, China.
H1N1 influenza virus likely passed from person to pet
While not confirmed, it is likely that the dogs became infected with the H1N1 influenza virus through contact with infected people.
Dogs are susceptible to their own form of influenza virus, called canine influenza. However, these are the first documented cases of the H1N1 virus strain infecting the canine species. The canine influenza virus is not known to be transmissible to people but can be passed easily from dog to dog. It appears that the H1N1 virus can be passed from people to dogs and likely from dogs to people as well.
Health officials in China assure that infected dogs are “no risk to humans”
Chinese health officials are trying to reassure people that their dogs are not a threat to them. They say that because the virus has been found in so many species (pigs, ferrets, cats and people), it is not surprising that that it has been found in dogs as well.
Officials stated that the virus isolated from the infected dogs was 99% identical to that isolated from infected people, indicating that the virus has not mutated significantly at this point. They stress that the virus will become a new threat to people only if the virus does mutate.
What pet owners can do to protect against H1N1 viral infection
This information will likely cause alarm for pet owners. However, there are a few things that can be done to protect pets from the H1N1 virus.
Practice good hygiene and sanitation.
Remain vigilant regarding your pet’s health.
Cats, dogs, pet pigs or ferrets with flu-like symptoms should be examined by their veterinarian. This is especially important if there have been sick people in the household.
Stay informed about the latest developments with the H1N1 virus.