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Reverse zoonosis causes concern
reverse zoonosis concern influenza flu season transmission illness
Humans must beware of passing flu on to their pets

The concept of reverse zoonosis, in which humans can pass illness on to their pets, is causing concern with the approach of the influenza (flu) season.

Many people do not realise they can not only pass flu on to other humans when they get sick, but also animals, including dogs, cats and ferrets.

Scientists and vets hope to help prevent reverse zoonosis by raising awareness of the issue.

It is well known that animals such as pigs and birds introduce new strains of flu to humans, such as the most recent H1N1 flu strain, however, it is less known that humans have further passed these on to other animals.

There is currently little known about reverse zoonosis by scientists and vets, however researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and Iowa State University are looking at this type of disease transmission.

"We worry a lot about zoonosis, the transmission of diseases from animals to people," said Christine Loehr, an associate professor at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. "Any time you have infection of a virus into a new species, it's a concern, a black box of uncertainty.

"We don't know for sure what the implications might be, but we do think this deserves more attention."

Professor Loehr advises that people with flu-like symptoms distance themselves from their pets in future.

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News Shorts
Avian flu confirmed in Washington

The US Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of avian influenza in wild birds in Whatcom Country, Washington.

Two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5NZ in northern pintail ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed-hunter-killed wild birds.

The US Department of Agriculture say that neither virus has been found anywhere in the US and no human cases with these viruses have been detected. There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian flu viruses.