Friday, April 07, 2006



In less than a week, the idea that cats could help spread the avian influenza virus to humans, and even act as incubators for the virus to mutate into a human pandemic form, has gone from being a widely discounted theory to the chilling possibility of actually being true.

After the discovery of a dead cat infected with the virus, this theory is now being taken very, very seriously indeed.

In at least four European countries, governments have demanded cat owners keep their animals inside, or face prosecution.

"Cats are significantly more likely to catch and pass on bird flu than has generally been thought and could help the virus to mutate to cause a human pandemic, scientists said today.

"The pets’ role in the spread of the H5N1 virus, and the potential risk they pose to their owners, have been underestimated by public and animal health bodies, according to a team of leading virologists from the Netherlands.

"Four European countries today imposed restrictions on the movements of cats after a dead cat in Germany was discovered to have been infected with bird flu."

Go here to read the full story.

This is from The Times of London :

"The dead cat was found yesterday on the Baltic island of Ruegen, where more than 100 wild birds have died of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. Experts say that the cat probably fell ill after eating an infected bird.

"As experts in many European countries took to the airwaves to offer advice to animal owners, alarmed that they might catch the human form of the virus from their pets, the German Government announced that all cats must be kept indoors in bird flu-affected zones. In addition, dogs must be kept on leashes, and all animals watched for signs of strange behaviour."

"It is important that pet owners keep a close eye on their animals for symptoms of a cold, diarrhoea, abnormal fatigue, fever, and if these signs emerge a veterinarian should be contacted."

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