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Volume 25(1), Spring 2015

FECAVA symposium

Influenza in cats and dogs


What’s the risk for humans?

What's the risk

for humans?


So far, interspecies transmissions of influenza viruses from cats or dogs to humans have not been reported.


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This diagram depicts how the human cases of swine-origin H3N2 influenza virus (USA, September 2011) resulted from the reassortment of two different influenza viruses.


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by Thomas Vahlenkamp

“The risk that influenza viruses are transmitted from pets to humans is relatively low.”

Dogs and cats are susceptible to natural influenza virus infections which are transmitted from avianadapted virus reservoirs to cats and avian and equine-adapted virus reservoirs to dogs. Due to the heterogeneity of influenza viruses in their natural reservoirs of water fowl and the recent natural infections of carnivores with influenza viruses of the subtypes H1 (H1N1), H3 (H3N2, H3N8) and H5 (H5N1, H5N2), contact of dogs and cats with birds, poultry, pigs or horses in areas where there are influenza outbreaks should be avoided to prevent the possible spread of the virus and possible human exposure to influenza. The transmission of influenza A virus from different mammalian and avian species to carnivores may result in viral adaptation; therefore the epidemiological role of infected

dogs and cats needs closer attention.