swine flu

H1N1 Confirmed in Cat in Iowa

swineflu

The news about a confirmed case of H1N1 in a 13-year-old cat in Iowa broke yesterday, and is causing concern among pet owners and veterinarians.  Previously, the H1N1 strain was thought to affect only humans, birds and pigs.

In the case of the Iowa cat, the cat’s owner had been experiencing fly like symptoms, and it’s believed that the cat contracted the virus from the humans.  The cat’s symptoms included lethargy, difficulty breathing, and loss of appetite.  The cat has fully recovered, as have the humans in the household.

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) issued a public statement on its website yesterday:

A cat in Iowa has tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, state officials confirmed this morning, marking the first time a cat has been diagnosed with this strain of influenza.

The cat, which has recovered, is believed to have caught 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.

Prior to this diagnosis, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus had been found in humans, pigs, birds and ferrets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) are reminding pet owners that some viruses can pass between people and animals, so this was not an altogether unexpected event. 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 on our Web site at http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus.

This is a developing story, and there is much about this virus that is not known at this point.  That being said, it’s important to not overreact until we have more information.  Keep the following things in mind:

  • Stay calm.  The good news is that both the cat and the human family members all fully recovered from their bout with H1N1.
  • In this instance, the virus passed from human to cat, not from cat to human.  There is, as yet, no evidence that the virus can pass from cats to humans.
  • This doesn’t change the basic good advice about how to protect yourself from getting sick that has been circulating for quite some time:  wash your hands frequently, keep your immune system healthy and strong.
  • If you do get sick with H1N1, the AVMA recommends that you avoid close contact with your cat.  If your cat shows respiratory symptoms, seek immediate veterinary care.

With a developing story like this one, it will probably be a challenge to separate the facts from the inevitable panic this kind of news can cause.  Know your sources when it come to health information, and don’t overreact to every snippet of news you see come across the internet or your tv screen.

Afraid of the swine flu? Don’t be.

You can’t turn on the computer, look at a newspaper, let alone watch television without being bombarded with news about the swine flu.  Words like epidemic and pandemic are becoming part of everyone’s vocabulary.  It’s hard not to be afraid in the face of this barrage of fear-inducing rhetoric.

This is a good time to use your head, and to harness the power of your thoughts.  To begin with, don’t let yourself get caught up in irrational fears.  Think this through.   Statistically, more people die in car accidents than in an epidemic, and yet, we all get into our cars each and every day without giving it much thought.  Today, we have the best medical care, the best public health system, and the best world-wide communication methods in the history of the planet.  This is not 1918.  This is the flu – not the black plague.

Make smart decisions that support your well-being.   Make small choices each day that add up to make a difference in how you feel.  Eat healthier, get more exercise, cut back on sugar.  All of these choices contribute to boosting your immune system.  Find things that bring you relaxation – get a Reiki treatment or a massage, take a hot bath scented with relaxing aromatherapy oils, read a good book, watch a funny movie.  And of course, spend time with your pets!  That’s the best way to relax that I know of. 

And above all else, stop worrying.  Worry creates stress, and stress weakens your immune system.  One of the Reiki precepts is “Just for today, I will not worry”.  If that’s too tall an order, try it for an hour.  Another way to get a handle on worry is to allocate a specific time each day for worrying – during that time, let yourself go nuts.  Worry all you want.   Take it to the ultimate worst case scenario.  You’ll quickly realize how crazy most of your worries actually are.  In fact, take a clue from your pets – they never worry.  They live in the moment.  When you live in the moment, there’s no place for worry.

And those of you who’ve followed me for a while already know what I’m going to say next:  don’t watch the news!  Don’t fill your energy with all that negativity.  You have the power to choose where you direct your attention and what you let into your energy field.  You don’t have to stick your head in the sand, but make the choice to not let what’s going on in the world affect your mental and physical health.

Can my cat or dog get the swine flu?

There is plenty of information in the media about how to protect yourself and your family against the swine flu, but very little has been said about whether it can affect our pets.  While there is no absolute answer, I found this article by Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM helpful and wanted to pass it on.

On a slightly different note but on the same topic – I highly suggest that you turn off the news.   The media has a never ending propensity to report bad news and to try and put its audience into a fearful state of mind about the swine flu, or anything else for that matter.  Fear and bad news sell advertising – it’s as simple as that.    Worry is a waste of energy and a sure fire way to attract what you don’t want into your life.    For more on why not watching the news is good for you, refer to “Go on a news diet“, posted in March.