Animal Update: Can You Make Your Pet Sick?

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(photo courtesy: City of Alameda)

(photo courtesy: City of Alameda)

Jeff Bell20100908_KCBS_0122r Jeff Bell
A Bay Area native, Jeff is thrilled to be at KCBS, a station he...
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(KCBS) – It’s well known that swine flu and bird flu can be transmitted from animals to people, but is the reserve true? Can an owner make his pet sick?

“Well I don’t want to set off alarms,” said Jennifer Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA, “but the first case of a human passing on flu to their cat was found just a few years ago.”

“And since then, only a handful of cases have been diagnosed where humans have passed the flu on to their pets. But we’ve also seen the flu jump from horses to dogs and one case of the flu jumping from a dog to cat.”

According to Scarlett, it’s not much of a concern for the “neighborhood veterinarian,” though veterinarians who work with wildlife, farm animals or shelter animals should consider it a “huge concern.”

“Viruses are usually very species-specific,” she explained. “And when they jump to a new species they often times are incredibly virulent. The new species has no immune system or no defense against this virus.”
KCBS’ Jeff Bell Reports:

Experts recommend the same thing that’s advised for family and friends: if you are diagnosed with the flu, limit your exposure to your pet. Similarly, if your pet is showing signs of the flu, seek veterinarian care.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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