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3 more cats die of H5N1 bird flu in the U.S.

Three other cats have died from H5N1 bird flu in the United States, one of which was a domestic cat with no connection to farms, according to state officials. At least 10 cats are now known to have died since bird flu spread to dairy cows earlier this year.

Two of the cats were found dead on a dairy farm in New Mexico’s Curry County, according to state veterinarian Dr. Samantha Uhrig. Cows on the farm also tested positive after workers noticed a drop in milk production.

The third case was reported in Yellowstone County, Montana, where a domestic cat showed “neurological signs” after its owner found a dead skunk on the property.

The cat was initially tested for rabies, but it was later discovered that the animal was infected with H5N1 bird flu. There was no connection to farms or dairy cows, Tahnee Szymanski, the state veterinarian, told BNO News.

In the United States, at least 10 cats have died from H5N1 bird flu since the virus was confirmed in dairy cows in late March. The actual number of infected barn cats may be higher due to limited testing.

The global spread of H5N1 clade 2.3.4.4b – and its recent spread to increasing numbers of mammals – has raised concerns about the possibility of human-to-human transmission from a future variant. So far, only a few human cases have been discovered following contact with infected birds or cattle.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in late March that avian flu had been detected in unpasteurized milk from sick cows in Kansas and Texas, making it the first ever case in cattle. The number of outbreaks on dairy farms has since risen to 42 across 9 states and a farm worker in Texas also tested positive.

The U.S. government on Friday announced nearly $200 million in funding to combat the spread of H5N1 avian influenza in dairy cows, including support for dairy farms, testing, vaccine development, surveillance and measures to ensure the safety of commercial milk.

Cats are known to be very vulnerable to this new strain of H5N1 avian flu. The first case in a cat carrying this variant was reported near a duck farm in the south of France in December 2022, after which the animal was euthanized.

In 2023, nearly 40 cats died at two animal shelters in South Korea after eating contaminated cat food, and in Poland, more than a dozen cats died in an outbreak likely caused by meat contaminated flood.

At least 23 cats in the United States have been infected with H5N1 bird flu, including 10 cases reported in recent weeks. The other 13 cases occurred last year in connection with infected poultry or wild birds.

News Source : bnonews.com
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