New research is emerging that it’s not only our pets who can make us sick – the infection works the other way, too:
“Since then, researchers have identified a total of 13 cats and one dog with pandemic H1N1 infection in 2011 and 2012 that appeared to have come from humans. Pet ferrets have also been shown to be infected, and some died. All of the animals’ symptoms were similar to that of humans – they rapidly develop severe respiratory disease, stop eating and some die. Serological studies suggest there is far more exposure to flu virus in cats and dogs than previously known.
“It’s reasonable to assume there are many more cases of this than we know about, and we want to learn more,” Loehr said. “Any time you have infection of a virus into a new species, it’s a concern, a black box of uncertainty. We don’t know for sure what the implications might be, but we do think this deserves more attention.”
The good news is – you don’t need to start worrying about giving your flu to ‘Fluffy’. The fact is, H1N1 is a particularly rare and serious strain of flu. This strain seems to easily jumps species barriers. Most of the common flu strains are much older, more adapted to humans and don’t readily jump species barriers. Then again, it’s only good manners to cover your face when you cough. Even if only ‘Fluffy’ is watching.