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.


VETERINARY MEDICINE


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.

REFERENCES

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3. Witt CJ, Malone JL. A veterinarian's experience of the spring 2004 avian influenza outbreak in Laos. Lancet Infect Dis 2004;5:143-145. Available through WHO web site at: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/. Accessed May 25, 2005.

4. The World Health Organization Global Influenza Program Surveillance Network. Evolution of H5N1 avian influenza virus in Asia. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol11no10/05-0644.htm. Accessed Sept. 15, 2005.

5. Ungchusak K Auewarakul P, Dowell SF, et al. Probable person-to-person transmission of avian influenza A (H5N1). N Eng J Med 2005;352:333-340.

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9. Hinshaw VS, Webster RG, Easterday BC, et al. Replication of avian influenza A viruses in mammals. Infect Immun 1981;34:354-361.

10. Keawcharoen J, Oraveerakul K, Kuiken T, et al. Avian influenza H5N1 in tigers and leopards. Emerg Infect Dis 2004;10:2189-2191. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/eid. Accessed Feb. 6, 2005.

11. Care urged after bird flu infected feline found. China Daily. Available at: http://www2.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-02/20/content_307975.htm. Accessed March 29, 2005.

12. The World Health Organization Communicable Disease Surveillance & Response (CSR). Avian influenza (H5N1)—update 28: reports of infection in domestic cats (Thailand), situation (human) in Thailand, situation (poultry) in Japan and China. 20 February 2004. Available at: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2004_02_20/en/. Accessed Sept. 15, 2005.

13. Thanawongnuwech R, Amonsin A, Tantilertcharoen R, et al. Probable tiger-to-tiger transmission of avian influenza H5N1. Emerg Infect Dis 2005;11:699-701. Erratum in: Emerg Infect Dis 2005;11:976. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol11no05/05-0007.htm. Accessed March 29, 2005.

14. Kuiken T, Rimmelzwaan G, van Riel D, et al. Avian H5N1 influenza in cats. Science 2004;306:241.

15. Perkins LE, Swayne DE. Varied pathogenicity of a Hong Kong-origin H5N1 avian influenza virus in four passerine species and budgerigars. Vet Pathol 2003;40:14-24.


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