A cat in Germany has been confirmed as having died from the H5N1 bird flu virus. It is the first time a mammal has succumbed to the disease in Europe. Although the news is raising fears of the virus spreading to other species, there are no proven cases of avian flu passing from cats to humans. The development is also not a complete surprise. It was already known that cats eating diseased birds could become infected.
The cat was discovered on the northeastern island of Ruegen where most of Germany’s H5N1 infected birds have been found. Sweden meanwhile has added itself to the long list of European nations with the virus, which it described as an aggressive strain. Further tests are underway to find out if two wild ducks found dead in the south of the country had H5N1. In Paris, veterinary experts from 50 countries have been meeting to discuss ways of combatting the disease. They have warned that a global effort is required, with richer nations helping poorer ones, and that any country failing to take proper measures will endanger the rest of the planet.