EU urges keeping cats and dogs inside amid record cases of brid flu

EU urges keeping cats and dogs inside amid record cases of brid flu

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has urged people to keep cats and dogs inside amid record cases of avian influenza across the world.

It comes after 24 cats tested positive in Poland for bird flu since June 10, which in some cases had resulted in death. The source of the contamination has not yet been determined.

The European Food Safety Authority said in December that the ongoing avian influenza epidemic was the “largest ever observed in Europe”. In the first year of the epidemic, from October 2021 to September 2022, there were 2,520 outbreaks in poultry, 227 in captive birds, and 3,867 detections in wild birds notified across 37 European countries.

“It is recommended to avoid exposure of domestic cats and dogs, and in general carnivore pets, to dead or diseased animals,” the EFSA said in its latest update.

“Possible measures are keeping dogs on a leash, and confining cats indoors in areas where extensive circulation of HPAI viruses in wild birds has been confirmed.”

The organisation also urged dog and cat owners to avoid feeding raw poultry meat to their pets in areas where the virus has been reported.

In recent weeks, five dogs and a cat have been infected in Italy. Meanwhile, there have been 188 cases of bird flu detected in the UK since October 2022, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

There is no vaccination for poultry or most captive birds to protect against bird flu in England. However, France recently said it hopes to start vaccinating poultry as early as autumn 2023.

The US has also begun testing several vaccine candidates for potential use on birds.

Bird flu was detected in two people in the UK in May

(PA Archive)

The UK’s chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss has warned vaccinating poultry was not “a silver bullet because the virus changes constantly”.

Bird flu was detected in two people in the UK in May, the UK Health Security Agency (UKSA) said.

The cases were believed to be linked to exposure to sick birds on a single poultry farm where the two people were known to have recently worked.

Neither worker suffered symptoms of infection and both cases were found during screening.

The UKHSA said the level of risk to human health remains “very low to the general population”.

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