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March 07, 2006

WHO urges more studies on bird flu infections in cats

Thanks to the reader who sent me the link to this Reuters story: WHO urges more studies on bird flu infections in cats.

Reports that a cat contracted bird flu and has not fallen ill could mean the virus is adapting to mammals and poses a potentially higher risk to humans, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Tuesday.

Michael Perdue, a scientist with the WHO's global influenza programme, said more studies were needed on infections in cats, including how they shed the virus.

But Perdue said there was no current evidence that cats were hidden carriers of a virus which can wipe out poultry flocks in the space of 48 hours and occasionally infects people.

Austria said on Monday that a cat in an animal sanctuary in the southern city of Graz had tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus but had yet to show any symptoms of the disease.

However, the virus can take up to a week to strike and perhaps the cat in Austria could still develop clinical signs, according to Perdue.

"We have to follow-up with laboratory studies to see if it (the virus) changed genetically and is not causing clinical signs," Perdue told Reuters.

Posted by dymaxion at March 7, 2006 10:40 PM

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