Dog and cat owners issued urgent warning after deadly disease outbreak

What is Bird Flu?

Pet owners have been warned that their beloved pets are at risk of catching bird flu after 24 cats tested positive for the virus in Poland.

Sadly nine of these felines died.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has now urged people to take extra care with their furry friends as the source of the contamination has not yet been determined.

The widespread bird flu epidemic has had a devastating impact on both domestic and wild bird populations, resulting in millions of deaths across 67 countries, including the UK.

Scientists have expressed concern over the occurrence of bird flu-related fatalities among wild mammals, such as foxes, which can contract the virus while hunting infected birds or consuming their carcasses.

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Now European health chiefs are urging pet owners to keep them on leashes while walking in order to avoid the same risks. 

Although the exact source of the outbreak remains unknown, European health authorities have observed that approximately half of the affected cats had been fed raw poultry by their owners, potentially leading to transmission of the virus.

Officials have clarified that there have been no confirmed cases of bird flu transmission between cats or from cats to humans in these instances.

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Furthermore, a separate study conducted on a farm in Italy, where bird flu was present, revealed that five dogs and a cat had antibodies indicating exposure to the disease.

The EFSA said that “it is recommended to avoid exposure of domestic cats and dogs, and in general carnivore pets, to dead or diseased animals”.

Their statement continued: “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.”

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According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a total of 188 cases of bird flu have been identified in the UK since October 2022.

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