Most of us won't admit it, but a lot of us play "kissy-face" with our pets. Doing that when you're sick could make your pet ill too.
It turns out that the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, can be transmitted from humans to pets after all. The first case in a dog has been confirmed by independent tests in two labs. This follows earlier cases confirmed in pet cats and ferrets.
According to the Associated Press (AP), a 13-year-old mixed breed male dog in suburban New York is the first canine confirmed to be carrying the same strain of swine flu that is infecting humans. The dog is recovering and apparently caught the virus from his owner.
Michael San Filippo, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, told the AP there's no evidence that the flu strain can be transmitted from a pet to a person. "In theory it could happen, but so far it's really looking like a dead end in pets," he said.
Among humans, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says swine flu is waning with widespread infections in 11 states now, down from 48 in late October.
How serious is the risk to family pets? So far at least one cat and one ferret have died. Veterinarians recommend that owners with the flu wash their hands frequently and try to avoid contact with their pets while ill.
That means, of course, playing "kissy-face" with your pet is out of the question for owners until they get well. Your pet will thank you for your restraint.
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