Can Dogs Catch Swine Flu?
According to a press release issued today by the ASPCA it’s unlikely that "Swine Flu" will infect our dogs and cats as to date only humans have been affected by the new A/H1N1 virus. However, they recommend that owners of pet pigs, as well as farmers, should monitor their animals’ health more closely during this outbreak.
Following is more detailed information excerpted from the ASPCA press release:
Dr. Miranda Spindel, Director of ASPCA Veterinary Outreach: "Swine influenza or swine flu is caused by infection with Influenza A viruses and is one of the leading causes of respiratory disease in swine throughout the world. Like most Influenza A viruses, swine flu generally causes high levels of illness in pigs, but fatalities are uncommon. Although people do not normally contract swine influenza, humans have become infected when in contact with infected pigs or contaminated environments. Normally, human-to-human transmission of swine flu is temporary. However, as outbreaks have occurred in the past, swine flu is recognized for its potential to cause public health concern."
The ability of any virus to cross species barriers and sustain transmission is dependent on many factors and occurs infrequently. Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Swine are unique in that they are able to host both avian and mammalian influenza viruses. It has been suggested that pigs can act as a reservoir, allowing avian influenza to adapt to mammalian species, and for influenza viruses to undergo genetic changes, emerging as entirely new and different viruses. When these new, mixed/mutated viruses appear, there is potential for humans to become infected and transmit the new virus among other people. The form of influenza that appears to have originated recently in Mexico is a never-before-seen genetic mixture of type A Influenza viruses originating in pigs, birds and people.
For more information about swine flu and updated information on prevention, the ASPCA recommends the following organizations the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu), the American Veterinary Medical Association (http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/swine/swine_flu_faq.asp) and the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/), among other agencies, are coordinating guidance and updates on the evolving situation with swine flu.