There have been at least 16 cats in Poland that have died and tested positive for H5N1 avian flu. However, health officials are still reviewing dozens more suspected cases, which raises doubts about the source of the epidemic as cats are normally not affected by the illness. According to the researchers, raw meat that was ingested by one of the affected cats in Poland tested positive for H5N1 avian flu. This finding adds to the accumulating body of evidence suggesting that a food product is the source of the odd outbreak.
Earlier on Monday, Poland’s Veterinary Institute stated that genetic sequencing had shown that the virus strains in nine of the verified cases were closely connected to one another and were also highly similar to a strain that was detected in a white stork in the Tarnów area in early June.
The analysis showed that 1 of the 5 samples contained the virus. Further analysis showed that the meat contains not only the genetic material of the virus but also the infectious virus, and we were able to isolate the virus in cell culture, Poland’s Veterinary Institute stated.
The researchers were unable to rule out the chance that the flesh sample they tested had been tainted, but they did note that other indications are pointing in the direction of food as the most plausible path of transmission. In addition, H5N1 was identified in many samples of frozen duck flesh that were collected in Germany in the year 2007.
Concerns have been expressed over the potential for a future version of H5N1 clade 188.8.131.52b that might facilitate human-to-human transmission as a result of the virus’s widespread distribution throughout the world and its recent expansion to an increasing number of mammalian species. To this day, there have only been a few human cases discovered that were caused by contact with sick birds.
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