Short Takes

September 2008 Issue

Short Takes: 09/08

Cats and the risk of avian flu; is it really a case of feline hyperesthesia syndrome?

While the world holds its breath to see if the highly pathogenic avian flu virus H5N1 mutates enough to spread from person to person, German scientists wondered if the average house cat could have a role. An article in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (Vol. 10 Issue 4: "Prevalence of influenza H5N1 virus in cats from areas with occurrence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds"), gave the results of surveys that covered 171 cats in Austria and Germany. The study was presented "to learn more about the role of cats in the spread of the virus and about the risk posed to cats." They were looking for a good "sentinel" animal among mammals, to give an early warning the way caged canaries in coal mines used to warn of poisonous gases.

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