Avian influenza: An emerging feline threat? - Veterinary Medicine
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Avian influenza: An emerging feline threat?
Until recently, it was thought that cats couldn't get the flu. But the new strain of avian influenza ravaging birds in Asia can—and does—infect cats.


If you suspect avian influenza in any species, contact the Animal Health Diagnostic Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University (phone: 607-253-3900; e-mail:
) for testing information. Report cases of avian influenza to local or state public health departments or the county veterinarian. Although guidelines for handling infected pets have not been established, human infection-control precautions recommended by the CDC can be adapted for use in companion animals. Use stringent hygienic care (including using gloves, gowns, and masks) when handling potentially infected animals, and maintain these animals under isolation conditions until testing is completed or for 14 days after the onset of clinical signs. Treatment of influenza virus infection in cats would probably be based on supportive care. Influenza antiviral agents have not been tested in cats, so their safety and efficacy are unknown.

Margaret C. Barr, DVM, PhD
College of Veterinary Medicine
Western University of Health Sciences
Pomona, CA 91766.

Dr. Barr lectured on this topic at the 2005 Central Veterinary Conference. Her paper originally appeared in the conference proceedings.


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