STILLWATER — The animal disease diagnostic lab at Oklahoma State University is offering swine flu testing of house pets. Only one sample has been submitted, a cat that tested negative for H1N1 and recovered from illness.
Veterinarians from Oklahoma and surrounding states can send nasal or cheek swabs for testing to the lab, which is approved by the National Animal Laboratory System. The test will cost pet owners about $80. Lab director and veterinary doctor Bill Johnson said the lab can test samples from dogs, cats, ferrets and birds. Several cats and ferrets have tested positive for H1N1 in the United States, and China reported two dogs were infected with the virus. "It’s a pretty rare event,” Johnson said. Still, pet owners can take precautions. Family members who are sick with influenza should stay away from pets if possible, and wash their hands before petting them or handling their food. Symptoms of influenza in pets include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. Johnson said there is no H1N1 vaccine for pets.