Can we transmit the flu to our dog, cat or ferret?

Can we transmit the flu to our dog, cat or ferret?

There it is, it is official, the flu is here, and it is ahead of schedule. And if it affects humans, can it be contagious for dogs, cats or ferrets?

Runny nose, fever that rises, cough, body aches… The flu is not a pleasure for anyone. And when we catch it, we are to spend a few days nailed to the bed. Often, during our convalescence, we enjoy the comforting presence of an animal who just curl up close to us. Real live heating pads, our cats and dogs thus contribute, in their own way, to our recovery. But is this proximity not dangerous for them? Don’t we risk contaminating them?

Can my dog or my cat catch my flu?

A priori, not. The flu is not part of the zooanthroponosis (or reversed zoonoses), these diseases transmitted from human to animal. The risk of transmitting influenza to his dog or his cat is therefore very limited. It is however to be noted that the viruses evolve quickly: in 2009, a cat whose owners had contracted the H1N1 flu had also been contaminated. And even if these cases are extremely rare, they are not to be excluded. Being a virus that mutates easily and which combines itself, the flu is dangerous when it is found in a reservoir where it is not supposed to be. But there has to be a lot of exposure to become a real risk.

While a doubt – as small as it is – persists, researchers of the Iowa State University, the OSY College or College of Veterinary Medicine of Oregon are currently working to identify cases of animals that would have caught the flu because of human. The research could lead to better know the risks of contamination between humans and domestic animals.

Possible contamination in ferrets

Ferrets, on the other hand, are likely to be contaminated by the flu and to transmit it back to humans (and vice versa). Several cases of influenza have been identified. This viral micro-organism is transmitted by contact of respiratory secretions of an infected animal or human. The symptoms for the ferret are then the same as for humans.

Antibiotics may be prescribed by a veterinarian to a ferret in the case of secondary bacterial infections, as well as antihistamines to fight sneezing. The flu is not dangerous for adult ferrets, but can be fatal for the new-born as well as for most vulnerable ferrets (already weak or in old age).