Showing posts with label bird flu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bird flu. Show all posts

Friday 3 May 2024

Bird flu blinds barn cats and kills half in days on Texas farm

This is a cross post because it is an important story. It is also a tragic story as half of the 24 barn cats on this Texas farm died quickly of bird flu which they contracted, it is believed, from drinking the unpasteurised milk from the cows with which they lived. 

Bird flu blinds barn cats and kills half in days on Texas farm
Barn cats drink unpasteurised milk in a milking barn and caught bird flu which killed them. This is a fictional image please note based on the image on the internet. 

Their deaths were unpleasant and painful. The story was announced by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which revealed that at least 24 cats on this Texas farm experienced severe health symptoms such as depression, body stiffness, ataxia (loss of coordination), blindness, circling and extreme upper respiratory infection with excessive mucus from their eyes and noses.

Autopsies were carried out on the cats some of whom had died in as little as two days after they fell ill. The virus had spread to their entire body, lungs, brains, heart and eyes.

It also believed the cats contracted the disease from infected cattle by being in close contact with them. Clearly, the disease is a zoonosis (zoonotic disease) because it is transferable from one species of animal to another.

The disease can be transmitted in saliva, droppings and other body fluids and as mentioned in consuming raw milk (colostrum) from the cows.

CDC obtained the bodies of two of the cats as well as samples of milk from the cows. They also examined tissue samples from six of the cows. Three of the cows were euthanized and three had died of the virus.

All the animals were revealed to have been infected with H5N1 bird flu, specifically the one designated 2.3.4.4b, a highly pathogenic variety that killed a dolphin in Florida recently.

The cats had microscopic lesions in their brains, heart and lungs. They examined photographs of the barn where they lived and saw that they drank milk from a designated bowl as well as directly from cows.

It appears that the symptoms were first observed in the cats and so CDC tested the cows in which they found symptoms including tiny lesions in their memory glands.

The situation with avian flu designated A(H5N1) has become serious in America. It first emerged in 1996 but since 2020 the number of outbreaks has increased rapidly with tens of millions of poultry killed and wild birds and land and marine animals also infected.

Being a zoonosis, the disease can be transferred to people and earlier in the month a dairy farm worker in Texas became the second American to become infected with the virus. The farmworker contracted a mild infection with just one symptom which was an inflammation of the eye and recovered well. They were placed into isolation.

It is believed that they didn't transfer the disease to others and were being treated with the drug Tamiflu. This occurred in Texas as well and is believed to be the first case of a human infected by avian influenza from a cow.

The virus is mutating making it easier to jump posts as happened with the Covid-19 virus.

Protections

Cats can be protected from A(H5N1) if they are given a vaccination. However, it’s important to note that cats can still shed some of the virus, albeit in low numbers. If a cat is exhibiting symptoms, it should be put into isolation and kept indoors. Then, it should be taken to a vet for testing to determine the presence of H5N1. Additionally, here are some other preventive measures for cat owners:

  1. Limit Contact with Possible Vectors: To prevent the spread of H5N1 among cats, limit their contact with other possible vectors such as birds and cattle. Cats should also avoid contact with fomites, such as milking equipment.

  2. Avoid Unpasteurized Milk: Do not allow cats to drink unpasteurized milk, as this could be a potential source of infection.

  3. Minimize Unnecessary Contact: If highly pathogenic influenza viruses are found or suspected in a cat, minimize unnecessary contact. Use gloves, a mask, and goggles for protection when handling the cat.

Remember that while the risk of cat-to-human transmission of influenza is low, taking precautions is essential to protect both cats and humans. If you suspect your cat may have been exposed to A(H5N1), consult with a veterinarian promptly.

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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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