Two domestic cats in Thailand die of bird flu
Two domestic cats in Thailand have died of the same bird flu that has killed 22 people in Asia, scientists say, increasing fears about the ease with which the virus can move between species, Reuters reports.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged cat owners to remain calm, but said they should think twice before feeding stray or domestic animals with potentially infected meat.
The cats "might have caught the virus from eating chicken carcasses or from live chickens that had bird flu," said Teerapol Sirinaruemit, a veterinarian at Kasetsart University's animal hospital who conducted the autopsies.
Experts are worried the virus might mate with another animal or human flu virus to produce a highly contagious and deadly variant that could unleash a global human flu pandemic (Panarat Thepgumpanat, Reuters, Feb. 20).
Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organization said yesterday, after concluding a two-day inspection tour of China's first bird flu case site in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomou Region, that the country's bird flu prevention work is "appropriate and professional" (Xinhua/China Daily, Feb. 20).
In Canada, officials are testing samples of a low-risk bird flu virus that has been detected on a British Columbia farm to determine if the strain is one that kills almost all infected poultry.
The H-7 strain of bird flu has been contained on the farm, Canadian Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew said, although it is not known whether the strain in the Canadian outbreak is the form of flu viruses that kills virtually all infected chickens. Test results to determine the exact type of flu strain are expected today, a Canadian agriculture official said (Associated Press/USA Today, Feb. 19).