Cats could be key in AI spread

09-10-2006 | |

The vast majority of human AI virus sequences isolated in Indonesian patients do not match the poultry H5N1 data collected during the same periods, sparking concerns that there may be an intermediary agent in bird flu transmissions.

Recent testing on 91 samples taken between September 2005 and March 2006 failed to match Java poultry isolates with most of the sequences from patients. Cats have emerged as a likely suspect, after a recent study showed that a throat swab from an infected cat provided the only virus sequence that matched a human infection.
Recent research conducted by the Indonesian Environment Information Center (PILI) in Yogyakarta found that stray cats had caught the H5N1 avian influenza virus through contact with infected poultry at traditional markets.
The discovery of more H5N1 in cats in Indonesia raises the possibility that the cats are also in contact with an alternate source of infection.  Sequence data on H5N1 from cats, and infected poultry in traditional markets, including those in and around Jakarta, where most of the reported human cases have been located, would help resolve the role of cats in H5N1 transmission.
For more information, see the news article discussing household pets as potential sources of bird flu infection.