Showing posts with label H5N1. Show all posts
Showing posts with label H5N1. Show all posts

Sunday 5 May 2024

Avian flu puts cow cuddling under threat

In America, a lot of small farmers rely on selling their cow cuddling services to the public to pay for the running of their farms such as purchasing bales of hay. It seems to me that to these small farm holders cow cuddling is a nice source of added income which supplements their regular income. That's the benefit from the farmer's point of view. 

Of course, there is a benefit from the customer's point of view because cow cuddling is known to be very therapeutic. There are other long-term gains such as understanding that cows are sentient beings. I can remember very clearly a video of a farmer in Europe had a great relationship with his farm animals including his cows. 

These relationships are very similar to those that one finds between companion dogs or cats and their caregivers. Cows are great animals although we treat them as livestock be used for the benefit of humankind.

We don't know for sure how people can contract avian influenza from cows but a person exposed to infected cattle on a farm in Texas tested positive for H5N1. They were the second documented case of human infection of the virus in the United States.

Although we don't know specifically how people are infected it is due to close contact with infected animals. Perhaps, and I'm guessing here, saliva is passed from cow to person and the saliva contains the virus. Most people who have fallen ill with H5N1 have had close contact with infected animals typically poultry.

The best of my knowledge, a person who contracted H5N1 was not seriously ill. The individual referred to above was treated for a single symptom of eye redness and they received antiviral medication. There was a case in the UK. The man contracted the disease from ducks. He was successfully treated.

In America, the CDC considered the risk of H5N1 being transferred to people as low but precautions are necessary. Milk from infected cows needs to be discarded although pasteurisation of milk kills the virus. Barn cats caught the disease from drinking infected milk on a Texas farm. It killed 12 of 24 cats in days.

Avian flu killed 12 Texas farm cats in four days after getting the disease from cattle

Perhaps the big problem for the cow cuddling businesses is that customers will no longer want to cuddle cows knowing that there is a potential risk of contracting this disease. This is the problem rather than the farms having to stop selling the service. Although they will probably do it voluntarily as they'd be exposed not only to the virus but to a claim for compensation through the courts! 😒🤢

In summary, while the risk of transmission from cows to humans remains low, health authorities are closely monitoring the situation and taking precautions. Some people who want to cuddle cows will also be taking precautions if they are aware of this zoonosis and avoid cows.

Some more on avian flu infecting people

Avian flu, also known as bird flu, is an infectious type of influenza that primarily affects birds. However, in rare cases, it can also infect humans. Here are some key points about avian flu:

Strains of Bird Flu Virus:

  • Most bird flu viruses do not infect humans. However, there are four strains that have caused concern:
  • H5N1 (since 1997)
  • H7N9 (since 2013)
  • H5N6 (since 2014)
  • H5N8 (since 2016)
  • While these strains don’t easily infect people and are not usually spread from human to human, there have been cases of human infection worldwide, leading to fatalities.
How Bird Flu Spreads to Humans:
  • Bird flu is primarily spread through close contact with infected birds (dead or alive).
  • This includes touching infected birds, their droppings, or bedding.
  • Markets where live birds are sold can also be a source of bird flu.
  • Eating fully cooked poultry or eggs does not transmit bird flu, even in areas with outbreaks.

Symptoms in Humans:

  • The main symptoms of bird flu can appear rapidly and include:
  • Very high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • Aching muscles
  • Headache
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Other early symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, chest pain, bleeding from the nose and gums, and conjunctivitis.
  • Severe complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome can develop within days of symptoms appearing.

Treatment and Prevention:

  • Antiviral medications can help prevent complications if administered promptly.
  • Prevention measures include avoiding contact with infected birds, practicing good hygiene, and cooking meat thoroughly.
  • There is no specific bird flu vaccine available.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 14 July 2023

European Union tells cat owners to keep their cats indoors full-time (in certain areas)

The headline may surprise you. In Europe, the default cat ownership M.O. is to allow cats and indoor/outdoor life. Things are changing but that is the current method. However, the worst-ever outbreak of bird flu has hit the European continent which led to the European Food Safety Authority deciding to make the announcement. Twenty-four cats in Poland tested positive for the virus and the authority fears that avian influenza could be evolving to spread among mammals.

Notes about bird flu, domestic cats and people.

Cats on a farm as exposed to bird flu
Cats on a farm as exposed to bird flu. Image: MikeB

As you probably know, bird flu is zoonotic which means that it can be transmitted between different animal species. Even people can get it. And if cats can get it from birds, then theoretically at least cats can give it to people. The disease has the potential for being quite serious. I suppose there is even a technical possibility that it could create another pandemic.

Since late 2021, bird flu has killed millions of birds in Europe and in other countries. Sixty-seven countries on five continents reported (H5N1) outbreaks. More than 131 million poultry have either died of bird flu or been killed by farmers to prevent the spread of bird flu.

And although we know that 24 cats tested positive for bird flu as mentioned, outbreaks in other areas have led to 26 different species contracting the disease including farmed mink in Spain. This is highly concerning for the authorities.

The European Food Safety Authority wants there to be less exposure of the disease to domestic cats and dogs and to achieve that objective they said: "Possible measures are keeping dogs on a leash, and confining cats indoors in areas where extensive circulation of HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] viruses in wild birds has been confirmed."

Around 70 domestic cats might have died of bird flu in Poland since June 23. The World Health Organisation said that "some mammals may act as mixing vessels for influenza viruses, leading to the emergence of new viruses that could be harmful to animals and humans."

They added that, "Avian influenza viruses normally spread among birds, but the increasing number of H5N1 avian influenza detections among mammals-which are biologically closer to humans than birds are-raises concern that the virus might adapt to infect humans more easily."

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Cats can get bird flu by eating raw chicken necks and experts recommend feeding raw chicken necks to domestic cats

You may have heard about the bird flu outbreak among domestic cats in Poland. It is reported that at least 24 sick or dead cats tested positive for H5N1 in Poland according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. There are uncertainties about how the cats contracted the disease but 13 were found to have been fed raw poultry meat.

Bird flu
Bird flu. Image: MikeB

My mind then jumped to advice that you can read on the Internet from various sources including veterinary websites about the benefit of feeding domestic cats with the raw neck of poultry because it is very good for the teeth and it is cartilaginous which minimises the harm that they might experience when biting into bones.

You can also feed domestic cats bird wings. Once again, the idea is to improve gum health because, to be frank, the large pelleted dry cat food is not that great at cleaning teeth and preventing the buildup of calculus along the gum line.

Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM and author recommends feeding raw chicken to cats so that they can bite on bone. There is a risk but he argues that the benefit outweighs the risk.

At present, with a bird flu epidemic in Poland and with bird flu present in other countries including the UK, I would suggest that people should not feed their cat companions with chicken neck because the risk/reward balance has been shifted by the presence of bird flu.

"H5N8 and H5N1 bird flu have been found in some poultry, other captive birds and wild birds in the UK." - NHS

The disease is zoonotic and therefore it can be transmitted from birds to cats as we can see from the Polish problem. In Poland, incidentally, one cat owner said that she feed her cat raw chicken purchased from a large supermarket chain. Within days of eating the raw chicken her cat became drowsy. A veterinarian suspected a cold but within days her cat began to lose balance and she fell off a chair.

Her hind legs were paralysed and she stopped eating completely. Antibiotics and steroids were unable to help and the cat died seven days after eating the raw meat.

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