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  • Protecting Your Pets from Swine Flu

    Protecting Your Pets from Swine Flu
    How to keep your four-legged companion safe from H1N1.

    Many of us have pets that are just as much a part of the family as anyone else, and with words like "swine" and "flu" floating around so close to each other, it's only natural to wonder if this influenza outbreak might be dangerous for the non-human family members.

    The good news is - this time the flu in the headlines is unlikely to target Fluffy or Polly. And even if Polly is a pot-belly pig that sleeps at the foot of your bed every night, he'll probably be okay. Here's why:

    Researchers give each strain of flu virus a number. The one spreading so fast from human to human right now is known as H1N1. It's a virus that picked up a combination of parts from the flu that usually causes minor infections in birds, the one that usually shows up in pigs, and the one humans fight off every year. So it's packing weapons we're unfamiliar with, and that's why it's catching our immune systems by surprise.

    But it's very difficult for these viruses to jump from one species to another. The last time a flu combined these three strains together was almost a hundred years ago in what was known as the "Spanish flu" epidemic. And the "Bird flu" in the news last year was only ever passed from birds to humans - not from humans to humans, or from humans to birds.


    But let's take a look at how a few types of pets handle the flu.


    Dogs - A flu virus known as H3N8, which usually infects horses, was recently discovered to be the cause of Canine Influenza. This is the first real flu virus to infect dogs, so their immune systems are not good at fighting it off yet. They can get secondary infections leading to pneumonia, but most cases aren't fatal.


    Cats - The "Bird flu," a strain of the virus usually found in birds, is known as H5N1. When it crossed from birds to humans in the 1990's it resulted in several human deaths. Surprisingly enough, it also started infecting domestic cats. Until then, no flu virus had successfully crossed to cats, so their immune systems don't have the tools to fight it off. There is another disease in cats, frequently called "Feline flu" but it's not caused by a true influenza virus. It just causes symptoms in cats that humans relate to their own flu symptoms.


    Horses - The flu is really very common among horses. It's usually caused by two strains known as H3N8 and H7N7. As in humans, the horses who catch the flu usually experience only mild symptoms and recover quickly. Their immune systems are accustomed to fighting flu viruses, and problems only come in when a secondary infection causes pneumonia.


    Pigs - There are some sweet little pigs making great house pets out there, and they may be getting a bad rap for the "swine flu." In reality, no pigs have shown up with the particular strain that's making humans so sick right now, although they are prone to picking up flu viruses from all over the place. It causes an illness similar to what we see in humans with coughs, sneezes and fevers.

    So although the swine flu is probably not a danger to your pets, they have their own illnesses to worry about and need their own special care. If your animals are behaving unusually, or have a new flu-like symptom, check in with your veterinarian and help get them back on their four feet as soon as possible. Our families wouldn't be the same without them.

    Copyright 2009, Tribune Interactive


    http://www.myfox8.com/health/sns-hea...0,473833.story
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela

  • #2
    Re: Protecting Your Pets from Swine Flu

    Pigs - There are some sweet little pigs making great house pets out there, and they may be getting a bad rap for the "swine flu." In reality, no pigs have shown up with the particular strain that's making humans so sick right now, although they are prone to picking up flu viruses from all over the place. It causes an illness similar to what we see in humans with coughs, sneezes and fevers.
    The above is not true as this virus has been detected in pigs.

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