Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Cat Gets Swine Flu

In case there was any doubt that swine flu can be spread without the help of pigs, in November Iowa public-health officials reported the first case of 2009 H1N1 in a house pet, a 13-year-old domestic short-haired cat that almost certainly caught the virus from its owners. (Two of three owners had previously reported flulike symptoms.) It's not clear how vulnerable cats, dogs and other household animals may be to the new H1N1 flu virus — and so far, no cases of influenza of any kind in pets have been known to move from animals into people — but the Iowa cat's case reinforced just how adaptive and wily H1N1 is, compared with the seasonal flu. The story prompted a popular TIME.com headline — "I Can Has Swine Flu?" — and ended happily: the cat and its owners recovered.