Cats and Bird Flu

Bird flu (or avian influenza) is not here at the moment. If it does show up in the United States, and you have a cat that spends time outdoors, you should read the article at the Star Tribune:

People living in areas where bird flu has been found in poultry or wild birds should keep their cats indoors, say scientists who believe the potential role of felines in spreading the virus is being overlooked.

Cats have been known to become infected with the H5N1 virus and lab experiments show they can give it to other cats, although nobody knows whether they can transmit it to people or poultry, the researchers say in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Scientists know so little about H5N1 in cats that it's difficult to assess the risk they pose when infected, wrote virologist Albert Osterhaus and colleagues at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, along with Peter Roeder of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Still, "we believe that the potential role of cats should be considered in official guidelines for controlling the spread of H5N1 virus infection," they wrote.

You can read the rest of the article here.