Protect Your Pets from H1N1 Swine Flu: SpcaLA

News of first confirmed feline victim sparks fears in pet owners.

Just a month ago, ASPCA experts said that the H1N1 Swine Flu did not seem to present a great risk of infecting dogs and cats.  

However, at the time, those experts warned that viruses do have a way of mutating and then, the risk factors can change. 

Now comes news out of Iowa of the first confirmed case of H1N1 in a pet cat, and that has a lot of pet owners worried. It has prompted The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles to issue an advisory to help calm their fears, and to give them some tools for dealing with the danger.

SpcaLA is reminding people to be vigilant in observing their pets. If they show signs of illness --  for example, a runny nose, sneezing or wheezing, loss of appetitie or lethargy -- it's important to take them to a veterinarian, no matter what the species.

"The current influenza vaccines for animals don't prevent the contraction of H1N1," says SpcaLA President Madeline Bernstein.  "However, if an animal becomes ill, antibiotics can be prescribed to combat secondary infections."

Luckily, the cat in Iowa recovered. And the rules to keeping your pet healthy are a lot like keeping the rest of your family healthy.

If someone in your home becomes sick, practice good hygiene, keep infected humans away from pets. Don't let your cat or any other pets wander around unsupervised outside.  If your pets seem sick, don't take them to dog parks or kennels. Don't let them share water and food bowls with other animals.

And again, don't hesitate to seek help from a veterinarian.  

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