Many dog owners are – understandably – concerned about the fast-developing swine fever emergency. The most common question being asked is – can my dog catch it? The answer is probably not.
The fact that no definitive answers are yet available is not surprising given the fast-moving events. The H1N1 strain of flu that has emerged from Mexico is a complex virus and may well mutate and develop as it travels around the world. This makes it very difficult for medical scientists to give any absolute answers. What is known, however, is that, while dogs can develop influenza via a Type A H3N8 virus there is no evidence of th e illness passing between them and humans or vice versa.
America’s Governmental health organisation, the CDC, which is overseeing the outbreak has this to say about dogs:
“To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people and there has not been a single reported case of human infection with the canine influenza virus. However, human infections with new influenza viruses (against which the human population has little immunity) would be concerning if they occurred. Influenza viruses are constantly changing and it is possible for a virus to change so that it could infect humans and spread easily between humans.”
One piece of information that might be worth bearing in mind as we all respond to the threat of swine flu relates to birds which the CDC believes may play an important part in spreading illnesses amongst animals. “Wild birds are the primary natural reservoir for all subtypes of influenza A viruses and are thought to be the source of influenza A viruses in all other animals,” it says.”
Keeping our dogs away from wild birds is one simple precautionary step we can all take at this time.
The next few weeks and months are going to be challenging but the key is to keep up-to-date with developments and to monitor your dog’s health – as well as your own. As always, if you see something that concerns you, contact your vet immediately. Keep a guide to canine medical health to hand too. (We’ve suggested one below.) In the meantime, we will do our best to keep you informed of any important developments. Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health