Pandemic H1N1 in Pets

The Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (ISU VDL) is now offering laboratory tests for the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus.  The virus emerged in humans in early 2009 and has spread through human populations worldwide.  While spreading of the virus has been primarily within humans, occasionally sick individuals have passed the virus to animals (pigs, turkeys, ferrets).  Although it is unknown whether or not companion animals are also susceptible to the pandemic H1N1 virus, influenza should be on your differential list for respiratory diseases of pets.

Sampling and submission:

Nasal swabs, nasal washes, tracheal swabs, tracheal washes or lung lavage from acutely affected animals with fever, inappetence and lethargy should be submitted for virus detection.  Samples collected from animals exhibiting coughing may not be optimal for virus testing.  Samples of lung and mid- to distal trachea, both formalin-fixed and fresh, can also be collected from deceased animals for virus testing.

When swabs are submitted, samples should be collected on a dried polyester fiber swab (e.g., Dacron) or flocked swab (e.g., Copan) and placed in a viral transporting medium or physiological saline (0.5ml).   Washes or lavage fluids should be submitted in a sterile snap-cap or screw-cap plastic tube (≥ 5ml in capacity).  Swabs, washes, lavage and fresh tissues should be sent overnight on ice.  Formalin-fixed tissue can be sent at ambient temperature.

Antibody testing requires serum submission.  Serology will have the most diagnostic significance if both acute and convalescent samples are submitted.

Submission form: Click here for ISU VDL submission forms

Please call 515-294-1950 for more information or contact:
Dr. Kyoungjin Yoon,

The following tests are available at ISU VDL:

Test Sample of choice
PCR influenza A - screening Swabs, washes, lavage, fresh tissues
PCR influenza - pandemic H1N1 (includes screen and differential) Swabs, washes, lavage, fresh tissues
PCR influenza A subtyping - H1 and H3* Swabs. washes, lavage, fresh tissues
ELISA (influenza A) Serum
HI test (pandemic H1N1) Serum
Immunohistochemistry (influenza A) Fixed lung and trachea
Virus isolation Swabs, washes, lavage, fresh tissues
   *The test will be conducted on samples positive by influenza A screening PCR when desired by the submitter. 
     Note that dogs can be infected with canine influenza virus (H3N8).