While avian influenza news updates (official and otherwise) are notoriously hard to come by over the New Year's Holiday, this morning we do have a statement from Korea's CDC on what is quickly becoming a cause célèbre in their local media; the detection of avian H5N6 in two dead cats.
As we've discussed previously (see here, here, and here), felines are susceptible to several types of avian influenza, including HPAI H5.
While only rarely reported, given the lack of surveillance, it likely happens more often than we know. Transmission of avian flu from cats to humans - while always considered theoretically possible - has only recently been documented with a LPAI H7N2 virus in New York City.
As we saw last May in Report: Skunks and Rabbits Can Catch And Shed Avian Flu, other small mammals (including dogs) are also susceptible to avian flu infection, and appear capable of carrying and spreading at least some of these viruses.
Two years ago several dogs in Korea were found to have antibodies to the (then raging) H5N8 virus, and so two dogs in the household with the dead cats are being tested, and those who had contact with the cats have been placed on prophylactic antivirals.
While the risk of transmission from cats to humans is believed to be low, the Korean CDC is urging people to avoid direct contact with wild birds, poultry, and cats who may have had contact with potentially infected birds.
One of the few English language reports on all of this comes from KBS World Radio News:
Korean translates into notoriously syntax-challenged English, but I've posted the least mangled of four machine translations of the CDC's statement below.
Pocheon cat game AI preventative measures and precautions of the highly pathogenic AI human infection confirmed
□ For one domestic cat (12.25 days) and one goat kitten (12.26 days) found dead in a domestic home in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province,
○ 12.31 days The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Quarantine Division is confirmed as a highly pathogenic H5N6 type AI.
• 12.26, 12.26 were found in a house in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province on 12.25 and 12.26 (12.25) and one (12.26)
• As a result of the inspection by the Animal Hygiene Laboratory in the northern part of Gyeonggi Province, it is suspected that it is an AI virus. 12.30 Then, samples are sent to the Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Quarantine Headquarters and the Agriculture, Livestock and Livestock Quarantine Headquarters
• 12.30 days Arrival and Epidemiological Survey of Epidemiological Survey Team for Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Quarantine Headquarters.
Disease Control Headquarters, Gyeonggi-do, Pocheon Public Health Center, Yangju Public Health Center
• 12.30 days Confirmation of H5N6 type AI virus for agriculture and forestry animal husbandry quarantine headquarters
• 12.31 days Confirmation of H5N6 type AI for highly pathogenic H5N1□ (Precautionary Measures) The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Quarantine Headquarters and the Disease Control Headquarters will conduct the following preventive measures immediately after confirming the death of a cat infected with AI at 12.30.
○ Prohibited measures such as disinfection of the place of residence are carried out,
○ Investigation of infection pathology and other companion animals (two dogs) of the complainant * Sample is collected and examined thoroughly,
○ Identified 2 outbreaks of H5N6 type AI (1 male and 1 female) on 12.31 days.
* We have received 1 sample (12.27 days) of dead weeping cattle and 2 cases of captive weevils (1 mother and 3 pups) other than the above two dead animals.○ Take measures to prevent Gyeonggi Province from capturing and inspecting nearby cats
* 4 of them are isolated in the northern animal sanitation laboratory in Gyeonggi Province
○ The cat human body contact person was identified and the measures to prevent AI human body infection such as administration of antiviral agent were implemented
- As a result of conducting a contact survey through the public health center, 12 people including the cat owner and 2 employees of the animal sanitation laboratory who carried out cats capturing in the area were classified as high risk group○ 12 anti-viral agents were administered to 12 high-risk group. After the seasonal influenza vaccination was confirmed, inoculation was carried out on non-vaccinees, and intensive monitoring is carried out for the maximum latency period of 10 days.
- As of 12.31 days, none of the 12 high-risk patients showed symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat□ (Infection of cat H5N6 infection) The CDC has found a cat infected with H5N6 AI in China,
○ H5N6 AI-infected cats have not yet been reported to have infected humans. The risk of human infection from cats is very low, but we plan to implement preventive measures against human infection, such as promoting compliance with national preventive regulations.
* Veterinarian infection reported from cats infected with H7N2 AI in the US in 2016
□ (Prevention and Cooperation) The government requested the people to cooperate with the following to prevent AI human infection.
○ General citizens should refrain from visiting livestock farms or migratory birds, avoid contact with dead animals such as wild birds and cats, wash their hands frequently for more than 30 seconds, and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth with their hands
○ High-risk groups, such as AI-farmers and volunteers, pay close attention to personal protective equipment and personal hygiene,
- Take seasonal influenza vaccination and anti-viral medication thoroughly. If you have fever, cough, sore throat within 10 days after your participation, report to the Public Health Center or 1339 (Disease Control Center Call Center) immediately
○ Livestock farmers block entry of wild animals such as road cats into farms and prohibit the feeding of animals and animals to livestock and companion animals.