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January 17, 2007

Cats and H5N1

Via Malaysia's New Straits Times: Bird flu update: Alarm as infected stray cats roam the streets. Excerpt:

AT least 100 stray cats roaming the streets of major cities in Indonesia are infected with the deadly H5N1 virus, which causes avian influenza.

The irony is that when tests were conducted on 500 stray cats in Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Bandung, Tangerang and Lampung, and the 100 were found to be infected, they were all released back onto the streets.

Dr C.A. Nidom, head of Avian Influenza Laboratorium at the University of Airlangga, said the tests were conducted from September to December last year.

When asked why the infected felines were released into the streets, he said: "I had no right to destroy them."

He said the stray cats were collected from markets selling chicken and in the vicinity of hospitals designated to treat bird flu patients.

The findings come as the bird flu death toll hit a new high in Indonesia over the weekend after two people died, bringing the number to 61, the highest number of fatalities in the world.

Dr Nidom said the government should do more to stop the spread of the virus and warned that it threatened to be a global problem.

"The tests showed that the virus is becoming more complex. We have to change our thinking and look at the possibility that the virus can spread to humans not only through chickens but also through other animals."

Posted by dymaxion at January 17, 2007 09:49 PM

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