On December 11th, a 13-year old mixed-breed dog from the Bedford Hills area of New York was presented to veterinary staff at the Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center after suffering from flu-like symptoms for several days, including lack of appetite, lethargy, coughing and a fever of 103.6°F. As in confirmed cases of Swine Flu in cats, the dog came from a household where humans had been confirmed positive. After veterinary examination, there was x-ray evidence of pneumonia and the dog was treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics and other supportive care, and was released after 48 hours. According to reports, the dog has now made a complete recovery.
Diagnosis of Swine Flu was made possible by the H1N1 Influenza Virus RealPCR™ Test from IDEXX Laboratories, since culture results from the tracheal wash were negative. The investigators also performed a complete Canine Respiratory RealPCR™ Panel to test for other respiratory organisms, including canine influenza virus (H3N8), and results proved negative. According to the veterinary case notes, the investigators were unable to conclude if the virus has caused the dog’s pneumonia, since other possible causes need to be considered in a dog of this age. However, the investigators believe that the virus certainly contributed to the dog’s clinical signs.
So far, Swine Flu infection has been confirmed in cats, dogs and ferrets but deaths have only been reported in cats. The Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Emilio DeBess, has urged cat owners not to panic, citing the fact that the number of confirmed cases, let alone deaths, represents a very small proportion of the total cat population.