June 17, 2024

WHO Confirms Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu as Cause of Unusual Cat Deaths in Poland

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WHO Confirms Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu as Cause of Unusual Cat Deaths in Poland

Title: Unusual Deaths of Cats in Poland Linked to Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu, WHO Confirms

Poland has recently seen a significant rise in “unusual deaths in cats” across the country, which have now been attributed to highly pathogenic bird flu. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that the cats died from the H5N1 subtype of avian influenza A, which is known to cause severe disease and high mortality rates in infected poultry.

This outbreak marks the first report of a large number of infected cats over a wide geographical area in Poland. The H5N1 virus has the ability to infect wild birds and mammals, including cats, and there have been rare cases of transmission to humans. Polish authorities notified the WHO about the unusual cat deaths on June 27, prompting immediate investigation.

Out of 47 collected samples, 29 were tested positive for the H5N1 virus. These samples were found to be similar to H5N1 strains found in wild birds and poultry in Poland. However, the source of exposure for the cats remains unknown at this point. It is believed that the cats may have had contact with infected birds or consumed contaminated food sources.

The infected cats displayed severe symptoms such as pneumonia, difficulty breathing, and neurological signs. As a precautionary measure, 14 infected cats were euthanized, and unfortunately, 11 more have since succumbed to the illness. Thankfully, there have been no reported cases of humans contracting the virus in connection with the outbreak among cats in Poland.

The risk of H5N1 exposure from cats is considered low for the general population. However, it is categorized as low to moderate for cat owners and veterinarians who do not possess proper protective equipment. This emphasizes the importance of taking necessary precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

The Polish authorities, along with the WHO, are actively investigating the source of the outbreak and implementing measures to prevent further spread. It is crucial for cat owners to ensure their pets do not have contact with potentially infected birds or contaminated food sources. Regular hand-washing and maintaining good hygiene practices are also recommended.

The outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu among cats in Poland serves as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of diseases between animals and humans. Vigilance and timely action are crucial in containing such outbreaks and safeguarding both animal and human health.

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