4 more cats test positive for H5N1 bird flu in the U.S.

Four more cats have tested positive for H5N1 avian flu in connection with a growing outbreak among dairy cows in the United States, according to state and federal officials, bringing the number of cases in cats in the current outbreak to seven.

Sonja Olsen, associate director for preparedness and response in the CDC’s influenza division, reported three new cases in cats on Thursday and a fourth case was reported on Friday.

“The reports we heard were of cats exhibiting neurological symptoms, rapid decline and death,” Olsen told BNO News.

Three of the new cases were found on two dairy farms in Curry County, New Mexico, and all have died, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The fourth case was discovered on a dairy farm in Wood County, Ohio.

Three more cats were recently confirmed to have died on dairy farms in Texas.

The global spread of H5N1 clade – and its recent spread to increasing numbers of mammals – has raised concerns about the possibility of a future variant that could lead to human-to-human transmission. 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 detection in cattle. Since then, 34 outbreaks have been reported in 9 states and a farmworker in Texas has tested positive.

Earlier this week, authorities confirmed that H5N1 bird flu viral fragments had also been found in samples of commercial milk, but experts say it is still safe to drink thanks to pasteurization. Additional tests are underway to confirm these initial results.

“The risk of avian flu evolves with the virus and requires real-time monitoring,” the World Health Organization said in a statement on Friday. “WHO and partners are calling on countries to quickly share information to enable this.”

Cats are known to be 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, leading to its euthanasia.

A few months later, in 2023, nearly 40 cats died in 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 contaminated raw meat.

At least 20 cats in the United States have been infected with H5N1 bird flu, including 7 cases reported this month. The other 13 cases occurred last year in connection with infected poultry or wild birds.

News Source :
Gn Health

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