The World Health Organization (WHO) reported the “unusual deaths” of dozens of cats due to the avian complaint in Poland. The WHO said Polish authorities notified it on June 27 of these deaths “all over the country” and that, as of July 11, it said 29 of 47 samples had tested positive for the H5N1 virus.
“There have been previous ‘sporadic’ cases of what is more commonly known as the bird flu virus, but the cases in Poland are the first time high numbers of infected cats have been recorded.”the organization said.
The dead animals were part of a group of 46 cats and one caracal feline in captivity that tested positive for this virus. Of the animals produced, 11 occurred until June 30 and 14 were euthanized.
Of the 25 cats that died or were euthanized, two lived outdoors., 18 were indoors with access to a balcony, terrace, or backyard, and five without access to the outdoor environment. Seven of the 25 cats reportedly had the opportunity to come into contact with wild birds.
The avian complaint reached Brazil, the world’s leading exporter of chicken
“There are several possibilities for the source of infection, among which the cats could have had direct or indirect contact with infected birds or their environments, ate infected birds, or ate food contaminated with the virus,” the WHO said, adding that authorities are investigating “all possible sources”.
Parachute Shayan Sharif, Professor and Associate Dean of the Ontario College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Guelphthe development of the virus in Poland is “very worrying”.
“Every step that the virus takes to increase its adaptability and its success rate in infecting mammals is basically bad news for us because it means that the virus is becoming more and more mammalian-adapted,” said one global news.
And he questioned: “The final question, the existential question about this virus is whether it would gain the capacity and the ability to infect humans. And then not just sporadically infect humans, but Would it really be able to sustain a transmission cycle within human populations?”
China had the first death from bird flu and the WHO urged to “monitor the virus”
“Low risk” for humans
Since the end of 2021, Europe is facing its worst bird flu outbreak, while North and South America are also seeing major gains. This situation led to the slaughter of millions of poultry around the world, many of them infected with H5NI, which appeared in 1996.
There has been a disturbing increase in infections in mammals recently, and the UN health agency specified that other sporadic infections from cats have already been reported. But in Poland “This is the first notification of a large number of provoked cats, in a wide geographical area within a country”said the WHO.
As of July 12, no person who was in contact with cats responded with any symptoms, and the follow-up period for these contacts has ended, the WHO added. According to her, the risk of transmission of the virus to the general Polish population by cats was considered low.
Vaccine makers are already preparing for the “human bird flu pandemic”
Days before, the WHO had expressed its concern about the multiplication of cases of bird flu in mammalswhich can help the virus to spread “more easily” in the human species.
“Bird flu viruses normally spread among birds, but the increasing number of H5N1 bird flu cases being detected in mammals – which are biologically closer to humans than birds – raises fears that the virus will adapt to more easily infect humans,” the WHO said in a statement.
It is estimated that the risk to homeowners of cats, veterinarians and other people who are especially exposed to cats carrying H5NI without protective equipment is low to moderate.
Avian influenza infection in humans is very rare, but when it does occur it can cause serious illness, with a high mortality rate. Human H5N1 cases are generally the result of direct or indirect exposure to live or dead poultry or a contaminated environment.
WHO Update of 12 Cases of Human H5N1 Infection Since 2020 Worldwide. Four were severe, while the remaining eight were moderate or asymptomatic.