Cats can catch H1N1

Editor's Note: This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages throughout the flu season. Readers interested in knowing more about this topic are urged to visit h1n1flu or

Q: We cat lovers are concerned about recent stories of cats catching H1N1. What should we know about H1N1 and pets?

A: Recently, reports of pet cats and ferrets with H1N1 have appeared in various news media. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that confirmed cases are documented in Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Utah, Iowa, Nebraska and France. Some of the pets survived, some did not. Some had treatment, some did not. What the animals had in common was contact with family members who had flu-like symptoms.

The Safari West Wildlife Preserve, a private zoo near Napa, Calif., which houses 600 animals, is dealing with an H1N1 outbreak in their cheetah population. Nancy Lang, the owner who is a biologist, read about the domestic cats with H1N1 and became suspicious when one of her cheetahs began coughing. Eventually, four of her cheetahs exhibited flu-like symptoms. They all recovered in 5-16 days. One of the four tested positive for the H1N1 virus. Investigators suspect that an employee animal handler was the source of infection for the animals.

Evidence suggests that humans infected the animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No evidence is available, however, to suggest that animals can infect humans with the H1N1 virus.

Symptoms for the animals included coughing, sneezing, runny eyes and/or nose, possible fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. The CDC advises that if members of your household have flu-like symptoms and your pet exhibits respiratory illness, contact your veterinarian. Currently, there is no licensed and approved H1N1 vaccine for pets. (There is a canine flu vaccine that protects dogs from the H3N8 canine flu, but it will not protect pets against H1N1 and should not be used on animals other than dogs.)

We advise that if anyone in a household where pets reside gets the flu, they should take the same precautions with the pets as they would with family and friends. Good hygiene and respiratory etiquette includes:

• Covering your coughs and sneezes

• Washing your hands frequently

• Minimizing contact with your pets until 24 hours after your fever is gone


NOTE: Beginning Dec. 21, Carson City Health and Human Services will offer H1N1 vaccine to everyone. A special clinic just for seniors (60 and older) will beat 8 a.m.-noon on Tuesday at the Senior Center, 911 Beverly Drive, Carson City.

Who: Community Members in High Priority Groups

Where: Carson City Health and Human Services, 900 East Long Street, Carson

When: 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays; 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-:30 p.m. Thursdays

Cost: Free

Priority Groups are:

• Pregnant women

• Children 6 months to 24 years old

• Caregivers of infants younger than 6 months of age

• Healthcare workers and EMTs

• Adults age 25-64 with underlying medical conditions

• Adults 65 and over with underlying medical conditions

Who: Fernley-area residents in high priority groups

Where: Fernley High School

When: 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Thursday

Cost: Free

Who: Carson City senior citizens age 60 and older

Where: Carson City Senior Center, 911 Beverly Drive, Carson City of Carson City

When: 8 a.m.-noon Tuesday

Cost: Free

For Students/Youth

• Douglas County Elementary Schools (2nd Dose): Dec. 15 and 16

• Fernley High School: Dec. 17

• Fernley Elementary Schools: Dec. 17

• Kidding Around Day Care (2nd Dose): Dec. 18

• Kids Kind of Place (2nd Dose): Dec. 18

• Faith Christian (2nd Dose): Dec. 18

• Trinity Lutheran Day Care: Dec. 18

• Little Tykes Too Day Care (2nd Dose): Dec. 21

• Small Blessings Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 4

• Kids Klub Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 4

• ABC Learning Center (2nd Dose): Jan. 4

• Little Knights and Maidens Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 5

• Wilseya 4 Fun Day Care (2nd Dose): Jan. 5

Some physicians and health care providers in the community have received supplies of the vaccine. People who fall into the priority groups can contact their health care provider to see if the vaccine is available.

• By Pam Graber, public information officer, Carson City Health and Human Services


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