The cat was taken to an animal shelter after he owner passed away and was adopted into a new home within 24 hours. Within the first week of adoption, the cat begain to show signs of respiratory illness and was taken to the Colorado Avenue Vet Hospital. The cat is reported to have been sneezing and had clear discharge from the eyes and nose.
The veterinarian performed real-time PCR test for five of the most common feline respiratory pathogens and swine flu, using relatively new technology from IDEXX Reference Laboratories. The vet also collected swabs from the eyes and throat. After treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics the cat was released on the same day. Further analysis revealed that the cat had contracted both Feline Influenza and Swine Flu. The result was subsequently confirmed at the California Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) Laboratory System at the University of California, Davis, to be the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus currently circulating in the human population.
This case is thought be unusual because the cat is not known to have been in contact with animals or humans that are exhibiting signs of Swine Flu, and veterinarians consider that the cat may have contracted the virus from an animal or human that is simply carrying the disease. Under normal circumstances, the Feline Influenza would have been detected and assumed to have been the cause of the cat’s symptoms, but the real-time PCR technology now available allows for an easy way to test for both. There is currently no indication that any other cats at the shelter from which the cat was adopted are infected.