Could You Give Your Pet the Flu?
In recognition of the positive therapeutic value of our furry and fine-feathered friends, ThirdAge wants you to know that October 4th was declared "World Animal Day" way back in 1931 in honor of the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi. Of special note on this day in 2012 is a recently released study from researchers at Oregon State University and Iowa State University about a concept called "reverse zoonosis" in which animals can catch the flu from humans.
A release from Oregon State notes that as flu season approaches, "people who get sick may not realize they can pass the flu not only to other humans, but possibly to other animals, including pets such as cats, dogs and ferrets." This phenomenon is not well understood but it has "raised concern among some scientists and veterinarians who want to raise awareness and prevent further flu transmission to pets."
The release further states that although most of us have heard that strains of influenza can evolve from animals such as pigs and birds and go on to infect humans, few people realize that humans appear to have passed the H1N1 flu to cats and other animals, some of which have died.
The release quotes Christiane Loehr, an associate professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, as saying, "We worry a lot about zoonoses, the transmission of diseases from animals to people. But most people don't realize that humans can also pass diseases to animals, and this raises questions and concerns about mutations, new viral forms and evolving diseases that may potentially be zoonotic. And, of course, there is concern about the health of the animals."
In the meantime, while researchers continue to probe for answers to this problem, you can take precautions to make sure you and yours don't give your pets the flu. Of course the best precaution of all is to avoid coming down with the flu in the first place. Now you have one more very good reason to get your shot!