As a fellow pet lover, it is natural to wonder whether your pet, whatever he or she may be, is susceptible to the H1N1 ('Swine Flu') virus. Let me put my 'Biochemist's hat' on for a moment and answer the questions like this: Theoretically 'No' and theoretically 'Yes'.
The 'theoretically No' arm of my response arises from the long-known adage in scientific circles that viruses are often what is known as 'species specific'. This means that only dogs can get dog viruses and only cats can get cat viruses and only humans can get human viruses and so forth. One of the reasons for this is that the viruses under question require different temperatures in order to infect (that is, to live and reproduce in a host) and dogs and cats and humans have different body temperatures.
In fact, the reason infections trigger a 'fever' reaction in the host is the body's innate attempt to 'burn off' the infecting organism, which really means that the body attempts to make it 'too hot' for the infectious agent to comfortably survive and replicate. Indeed, some of the herbal remedies I recommend, such as Boneset, actually provide an exothermic effect on the body, thus 'amping up the heat', kind of providing or amplifying a useful fever.
Long ago, researchers determined that humans and apes could cross infect. This was particularly evidenced by studies of SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
It has also been known for years that pigs and their tissues are very similar to humans. We've known for a while that pigs and humans can share diseases, with Trichinosis probably being the most well-known example.
But over the years, things began changing, partly because of human activities and use of antimicrobials, the advent of rapid air travel and the unrelenting tendency of infectious microbes to change (mutate) into more infectious and stronger (more virulent) forms! It used to be that only birds could get bird (avian) flu and it was specific to only chickens, ducks, etc. Soon, ALL birds became susceptible to bird flu--all food bird plus wild birds. Then HUMANS caught avian (bird) flu and that led to wholesale deliberate destruction of all bird populations in some Asian countries. This action did actually prevent a 'bird flu pandemic'.
Please note that in Asian countries, it is common for foodstock poultry to have the run of the house and yard, so close proximity is a problem. You can pretty much guess here that the same scenario evolved with swine/pork/pigs, so you won't be surprised to learn that at Sloan-Kettering, our chicken and pig research labs were right next to each other where human diseases were being studied.
Now that you understand the basics, let me tell you that the H1N1 Influenza virus strain used for the vaccine many are waiting for is capable of RAPIDLY MUTATING (CHANGING) and is so infectious that I would not rule out cross-species/cross-genus transmission.
A summation of what this means is as follows:
PET PIGS: Definitely at risk
FOOD PIGS: Definitely at risk
DOGS: Potentially at risk
CATS: Potentially at risk
FERRETS: Definitely at risk
I would suggest that if you love your pets and want to keep them healthy, that you exercise the same hygiene and sanitation principles for them as you do for yourself and your family. Don't let infected persons pet or handle or feed your pets with unsanitized hands. Use you common sense when it comes to exposure. A person with a bad case of H1N1 can also 'catch' a secondary infection of some kind from a pet, remember, so the precautions have to go both ways. And always remember how important it is for pets and their owners to have a good and healthy diet.
But don't panic and don't go overboard with precautions here with your pets. Know this is a good season to not shop around with your pet in a carrier. You don't want your pet to be one of the first cases of human-to-dog or cat transmission of H1N1 or a secondary bacteria, virus, parasite, protozoan, prion or other infectious microbe, do you?
Ordinarily, I would not be saying the above. But it appears that the H1N1 virus identified by the CDC is capable of rapid mutation and of causing deadly secondary infections, such as bacterial pneumonia. Please understand that these are my own opinions only and that I am suggesting what I don't routinely recommend for regular seasonal flu. I just pray I am being overly cautious with our little loved ones and please do talk to your veterinarian for specific advice.
You can do some additional reading at the ASPCA link below!
I hope you find this information useful!
God Bless and Keep You and Your Familes,
Reverend Barbara Sexton
Please understand that I am a biochemist and alternative healthcare provider with several decades of experience in the field of biomedical science. The information provided here is for educational and entertainment purposes only and is in no way intended to replace the advice of your regular medical doctor or healthcare provider and you are urged to follow his/her advice.