Zoonotic diseases are diseases caused by infectious agents that can be transmitted between (or are shared by) animals and humans. (link to University of Wisconsin Madison School of Veterinary Medicine). By the way, this page link is VERY interesting on the topic of zoonotic diseases if you are interested.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has now confirmed a case of H1N1 from a human to a cat and likewise to two ferrets.
Over the fold we (cough) go.
I want to make it very clear that I am not a physician, veterinarian or a public health official. Thus I am not trying to lead this information anywhere, nor am I able to do so. I am relying solely on those professionals/organizations who are in these fields.
Yet in the case before us, transmission of H1N1 from an infected human to a family pet (cat and ferret), it is clear that this has occurred.
So, if it has occurred, it can occur again. And again.
The AVMA has put together a Q&A on this topic which is interesting and informative. Read it here.
Q: Can my pet get the 2009 H1N1 virus?
A: Until recently, we had no reason to believe pets could be infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus because it is very uncommon for flu viruses to jump between species. However, on October 9, 2009, a USDA laboratory confirmed 2009/H1N1 infection in a ferret. The ferret's owner had recently been ill with the flu. Ferrets are more susceptible to infection with influenza viruses, so this was not altogether surprising. At this time, there are no reports of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus being transmitted from a ferret to a person.
On November 4, the Iowa State Veterinarian and the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that a pet cat was confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. The cat's owners were ill and the cat developed respiratory symptoms shortly afterward. The cat has recovered and there is no evidence at this time that the cat passed the virus to any people.
Pets that live indoors, especially cats, tend to have close contact with their owners - after all, that's why we have pets - and that increases their chances of being exposed to diseases. The best advice is to always follow common sense guidelines when dealing with animals (for example, washing your hands). In addition, it's more important than ever that pet owners keep a good eye on their pet's health and consult a veterinarian if their pet is showing any signs of illness. Keeping your pets healthy reduces their risk of becoming ill. [bolding mine]
I wanted to get this out there because we are hardly through the H1N1 pandemic, and I know there are readers here from around the US and world.
NOTE: Update 1, a slight change in diary title for clarity.
NOTE: Update 2. Thanks to lr3921 for pointing to this Time magazine article on the topic.