Bird Flu Found in Austrian Cats, Poland

Two or three felines have tested positive for the potentially deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu in Austria, marking the country’s first confirmed case of the virus’ spread to an animal other than a bird, the Associated Press reports via Yahoo News.

All of those cats are still living, according to the AP.

The announcement comes on the same day that Poland reported its first confirmed case of H5N1 in two wild swans that died because of the deadly strain, according to the AP.

On Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said that he’d given the National Institutes of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control the go-ahead to develop a second bird flu vaccine, the AP reports via Yahoo News.

There are already millions of doses of the first avian flu vaccine in the U.S. government’s possession, but that vaccine was synthesized to combat a strain of avian flu found in Vietnam in 2004 and health officials fear that the virus has since mutated into a form that can resist the vaccine, according to the AP.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called bird flu a greater challenge than any other past infectious disease, draining some $10 billion from global agriculture and affecting 300 million farmers, the AP reports.

The virus has spread to 17 new countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East since February, according to the AP.

For related news coverage, read UK Medical Expert: Human H5N1 Pandemic Not Inevitable, Cat in Germany Has Avian Flu and Avian Flu Confirmed in Niger.

For related CSO content, read Researchers: Immunizations, Quarantines Would Stem Pandemic and Planning for Pandemic.

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