Bird Flu (cont.)
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What about infection in large cats, like tigers?
Large cats kept in captivity have been diagnosed with avian influenza as well. In December 2003, two tigers and two leopards that were fed fresh chicken carcasses from a local slaughterhouse died at a zoo in Thailand. An investigation identified avian influenza A (H5N1) in tissue samples. In February and March 2004, the virus was detected in a clouded leopard and white tiger, respectively, both of which died in a zoo near Bangkok . In October 2004, 147 of 441 captive tigers in a zoo in Thailand died or were euthanatized as a result of infection after being fed fresh chicken carcasses. The cats are thought to have gotten sick from eating infected raw meat. Results of a subsequent investigation suggested that at least some tiger-to-tiger transmission occurred in that facility.
Can cats spread H5N1 to people?
There is no evidence to date that cats can spread H5N1 to humans. No cases of avian influenza in humans have been linked to exposure to sick cats, and no outbreaks among populations of cats have been reported. All of the influenza A (H5N1) infections in cats reported to date appear to have been associated with outbreaks in domestic or wild birds and acquired through ingestion of raw meat from an infected bird.
What is the risk to humans or other species from cats infected with avian influenza H5N1 virus?
There is no evidence to date that cats can spread H5N1 to humans. No cases of avian influenza in humans have been linked to exposure to sick cats, and no outbreaks among populations of cats have been reported. All of the influenza A (H5N1) infections in cats reported to date appear to have been associated with outbreaks in domestic or wild birds and acquired through ingestion of raw infected meat.
What is the current risk that a cat in the United States will become infected with influenza A (H5N1)?
As long as there is no influenza A (H5N1) in the United States, there is no risk of a U.S. cat becoming infected with this disease. The virus circulating in Asia, Europe and Africa has not yet entered the United States. CDC is working closely with domestic and international partners to continually monitor this situation and will provide additional information to the public as it becomes available.
If avian influenza A (H5N1) is identified in the United States, how can I protect my cat?
As long as there is no H5N1 influenza in the United States, at this time there is no risk of a U.S. cat becoming infected with this disease. In Europe, however, where H5N1 has been reported in wild birds, poultry, several cats, and a stone marten (a member of the weasel family), the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has issued preliminary recommendations for cat owners living in H5N1-affected areas. Additionally, the Food and Agriculture Organization has produced guidance for areas where H5N1 HPAI has been diagnosed or is suspected in poultry or wild birds.
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