Source: The News (Extract)
Posted: June 01, 2024

Cat lovers need to take safety precautions as avian flu is targeting feline furballs after many other animals.

Cats are catching avian flu, a concern that’s raising alarms about the risk for both these furry felines and their owners amidst the ongoing outbreak of highly contagious H5N1 avian influenza.

Since 2021, this epidemic has affected and caused fatalities among wild birds and poultry in the United States. Various mammals, including farm animals such as goats, dairy cattle, and most recently, four alpacas in Idaho, have also been exposed to H5N1, as reported by Science Alert.

Bird flu viruses can undergo random mutations that improve their ability to replicate in mammalian cells when they infect mammals. This raises the possibility that avian influenza could evolve to become more transmissible among humans.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on May 24 that there is currently no evidence suggesting that the virus has undergone the necessary changes to enable rapid person-to-person transmission. Most cases thus far have involved individuals who have had close contact with cattle or poultry.

Meghan Davis, a veterinarian and environmental epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explains that outdoor cats may become infected after hunting wild birds. “Simply coming into contact with these birds, whether through consumption or other means, could be enough to transmit the virus.”