Emerging Avian Influenza Cases in US Mice and Cats Spark Concerns

June 18, 2024 by
Emerging Avian Influenza Cases in US Mice and Cats Spark Concerns
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​​In its latest updates, the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has reported concerning developments regarding H5N1 avian influenza in house mice and domestic cats across several states.

Wild birds, especially waterfowl, are natural reservoirs for the influenza viruses. The disease can also spread to other birds through contact with infected birds and poultry products, and through manure and litter containing high concentrations of the virus

House Mice Detections

​APHIS initially detected H5N1 avian flu in house mice in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, where outbreaks had previously affected poultry. Today, an additional 36 cases have been confirmed from the same location, bringing the total to 47. These mice were collected between May 6 and May 12, highlighting ongoing transmission dynamics linked to the poultry outbreak site.

Domestic Cats Affected

​APHIS also reported four new detections of H5N1 in domestic cats, marking significant geographic spread and raising concerns about zoonotic transmission potential:

  1. Oklahoma: The first reported case in a mammal in Oklahoma's Harmon County. The virus detected is a reassortant between the global H5N1 clade and a North American wild bird lineage, collected on March 20.
  2. Michigan: Cases detected in Clinton County, where H5N1 was previously found in dairy herds.
  3. Idaho: Detection in Jerome County, where H5N1 has affected poultry, alpacas, and dairy herds.
  4. Colorado: A case reported in Morgan County.

In total, H5N1 has now been identified in 21 domestic cats across these states, underscoring the need for heightened vigilance and preventive measures.

H5N1 spread around the world

Protecting Your Pets: Advice from Experts

Pet owners are advised to take proactive steps to protect their animals from avian influenza:

  1. Limit Outdoor Exposure: Keep cats indoors, especially in areas where avian influenza has been reported in wildlife or livestock.
  2. Avoid Contact with Wildlife: Discourage pets from interacting with birds or rodents that may carry the virus.
  3. Monitor Health: Watch for symptoms such as respiratory distress, lethargy, or decreased appetite. Seek veterinary care promptly if any unusual symptoms arise.
  4. Practice Good Hygiene: Wash hands thoroughly after handling pets, especially if they have been outdoors, rapid test from BioFAST are efective way to diagnose H5N1 infection.
  5. Stay Informed: Stay updated on local outbreaks and follow guidelines from veterinary authorities and the USDA for protecting pets from avian influenza.

As authorities continue to monitor and respond to these developments, staying informed and taking preventive measures are crucial to safeguarding the health of pets and minimizing risks of transmission to humans.

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