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Baby Astronaut

How come there isn't a pet flu of concern?

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We've had the bird flu possibly mutating into a human concern, and now the swine flu. Why don't our pets -- which spend way more time near us (i.e. humans) -- get a flu that spreads with the potential for mutating into something that affects humans? Why only birds and swine?

 

Is this going to be a regular occurrence now, with every few year a new animal might transfer a new flu strain to us? Maybe chicken flu, or hamster, garden snakes, etc.

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Our pets probably aren't in regular enough contact with other pets to easily spread a disease. They spend most of their time bottled up in our homes rather than running around with other animals of their species.

 

In any case, if my cat got the flu, I'm not sure I'd be able to tell the difference. She'd throw up and sleep a lot. Not too different from when she's well...

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Rats, on the other hand, have regularly been deadly disease carriers. They too follow us around, but they mix with each other and go all over the place. And of course carry fleas and other bloodsuckers.

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There was a canine flu a few years ago. It pretty much only spread among racing dogs (dogs that actually mix with a large population of other dogs), and didn't jump to anything else.

 

But why just influenza? There can be and have been diseases that can infect both humans and common house pets. For example, rabies. But then, most pets are vaccinated against these diseases, and have very limited contact with other dogs/cats (at least, in North America and Europe), so epidemics are unlikely.

 

With farm animals crammed in giant disease pits, yeah, you're going to see more problems...

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H1N1, which caused Spanish flu in 1918, and the 2009 flu pandemic

 

H2N2, which caused Asian Flu in 1957

 

H3N2, which caused Hong Kong Flu in 1968

 

H5N1, a current pandemic threat

 

H7N7, which has unusual zoonotic potential

 

H1N2, endemic in humans and pigs

 

H9N2 sometimes called bird flu virus. In 1999 and 2003, an H9N2 influenza strain caused illness in three people, aged one, four and five years old, in Hong Kong. All three patients recovered. In 2007 an H9N2 influenza strain caused illness in a 9-month old baby in Hong Kong

 

H7N2 A 2008 analysis of the New York 2003 case concluded that the H7N2 virus responsible could be evolving toward the same strong sugar-binding properties of the three worldwide viral pandemics in 1918, 1957 and 1968. (Human flus and bird flus differ in the molecules they are good at binding with because mammals and birds differ in the molecules on the cell surface to be bound with. Humans have very few cells with the bird sugar on its cell surface.) A study with ferrets showed that this H7N2 strain could be passed from mammal to mammal

 

H7N3 sometimes called bird flu virus

 

H10N7 sometimes called bird flu virus. In 2004 in Egypt, H10N7 was reported for the first time in humans. It caused illness in two one-year old infants, residents of Ismaillia, Egypt; one child’s father a poultry merchant.

 

all these are from subtype A. The other subtypes are substantially less common. Influenze B almost exclusively infects humans. Influenza C infects humans, dogs, and pigs, sometimes causing both severe illness and local epidemics. However, influenza C is less common than the other types and usually only causes mild disease in children.

 

 

citation- all from wikipedia

 

 

 

All this seems to show that most influenza strain's are unable to pass from mammal to mammal.

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Is there a rodent flu?

 

I know I sound stupid but about 2 thirds as of what I know of mammals population are rodents....

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A couple of months back my wife and I had a mild but persistant colds where we were sneezing a bit and suffering mild conjestion for a few weeks. Our cat kept sneezing and wheezing too and we wondered if she had something similar. Probably just a coincidence, it was around the time when the swine flu was about.

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The wikipedia entry for Influenza tells you about Influenza A, B and C and the animals they infect.

 

It's a very quick read if you skip down to Influenza A, B and C...

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cats have other genes, other cells, other receptors...

 

until recently their were none cats with flu, now a few with H5N1 and H1N1.

Dogs can get horse-flu H3N8 (until ~2003?)

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