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Can Cats Give Us Bird Flu?

During the SARS epidemic, we reported that it killed somecats (including big ones in zoos). Now it's been discoveredthat the deadly bird flu that's been spreading through Asiacan be caught by cats as well, who can then pass it on toother felines. Scientists don't know if cats can spread theflu to people.

Why wasn't this discovered before? World HealthOrganization's influenza chief Klaus Stohr says, "One[reason] is nobody looked." WHO scientists now plan toexamine household cats whenever they investigate humanbird-flu infections. When they checked in Vietnam, theyfound the cats in flu patients' homes were healthy.

The fact that cats can catch bird flu is a surprise, becausewas thought they were resistant to infection from the birdflu family of influenza A viruses. The Chinese have recentlydiscovered that pigs can catch bird flu, which is even morealarming, since pigs are so much like humans genetically. Ifa superflu started in an animal and then spread to people,it would most likely start in pigs.

The reason health experts worry that bird flu could turninto an epidemic is because it's so different from the usualhuman influenza strains that we don't have any immunityagainst it.

Bird flu's coming, so watch your cat andtrustyour vibes.

Photo Credits: http://www.freeimages.co.uk/

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