I’m sure everyone remembers when the H1N1 flu came to Canada. It was a vicious infection that endangered many lives and even severely impacted one major sector of the agricultural industry (pig farming, to be exact). But were you aware that H1N1 was proven to be zoonotic? Zoonotic diseases are diseases which are transferable between species. Several cases were reported where cats, dogs and ferrets contracted the H1N1 flu from their owners who had the virus. These animals exhibit flu-like symptoms the same as us — fever, lack of appetite, coughing, and lethargy to name a few. Fortunately, these animals did not appear to pass this viral strain onto other animals or their uninfected human companions, however, a handful of animals deaths were reported due to contracting H1N1.
So why are we bringing this up now? Today, reports have been issued that a H1N1 variant has just been identified (read more about the developing story here) in Toronto. While doctors are avidly working on a vaccine for this variant all the while containing the spread of the flu, it is not yet known if this will become a threat for our pets. Ideally, this news will be the first and last time we hear or need to worry about this H1N1 variant creeping back into our beautiful city, but if not, please be on high alert. This goes especially for those incredibly social animals that may come into contact with a lot of humans. Like humans, the most immunologically-challenged age groups are young pups or kittens or geriatric animals. Pay extra attention to them (and yourselves!) during this time for the aforementioned symptoms. If your animal does start to act a little under the weather, getting them to your vet will never be ill-advised!