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With the recent outbreak of bird flu in Norfolk & Suffolk (December 2007) in the UK, I thought I'd just write a few lines about how it affects cats.   I know that there has been a lot of consternation among cat owners.

 

The risks of cats catching bird flu is very small.  It mainly happens when cats eat infected poultry.  There have been no  recorded cases of cat to human infection and limited evidence of cat to cat transmission.

 

There was a cat in Germany last year that died from bird flu but was found to have eaten infected wild birds.  As there is no vaccine licensed to prevent bird flu in cats it is sensible to use preventative measures.

 

Safeguards

 

1)  don't feed uncooked poultry to cats.  The H5N1 virus is destroyed at 70 degrees C.  Because of this the high temperature that commercial cat food is cooked at eliminates the risk of infection.

 

2)  keep cats indoors at dawn and dusk to prevent them from catching and eating infected birds.  Also, because the virus can
potentially be spread from cat to cat, this measure prevents exposure to potentially infected outdoor cats.

 

3)  keep cats away from wild waterfoul and poultry.

 

4)  safely dispose of any wild birds and poultry carcasses that your cat may present to you.  Use a sealed bag in the household rubbish and wear rubber gloves.

 

5)  usual hygiene practices should be observed when handling cat or bird faeces.

 

I've read that there has been panic among some pet owners, but there is no need to re-home your cats or have them euthanased because of the fear of infection by bird flu.

 

There is also no need to keep them indoors all the time.

 

Meanwhile, any unusual deaths of waterfowl or waders should be reported to the DEFRA Helpline on 08459 335577 (UK), the Dept of Agriculture (US), the Public Health Agency (Canada).

Thanks for reading!

 

Quotation of the Week:  Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time, for they are unfailing ingenious in that respect. - James Mason

 

This was originally a newsletter of the Healthy Cat Club in December 2007.
 

 

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