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Bird flu. Quarantine for owners of cats infected with the virus? “Complete Nonsense”

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Quarantine is coming for owners of cats infected with the bird flu virus, some Internet users claim, citing the announcement of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate as the source. However, the communication mentions epidemiological supervision, which is something other than quarantine. The GIS spokesman explains what it is all about.

After the internet circulated information on cat cases manifested by respiratory and neurological symptoms and high mortality, and then these infections were associated with the avian influenza virus A / H151 /, posts about the alleged “quarantine for cat owners” began to be posted on social media. Entries with such a phrase were accompanied by a communiqué of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, in which the sentence was emphasized: “The State Sanitary Inspection has taken preventive measures to prevent the occurrence of this disease in humans, among others by extending epidemiological supervision to the owners/guardians of cats who have been confirmed infected with the avian virus flu.”

The authors of some posts with this message wrote, among others: “Quarantine for cat owners?”; “But what? Quarantine for cat owners?”; “Quarantine is coming for … cat owners. They haven’t played this yet.” Some commentators asked if the GIS message was true: “You fabricated it or something like that is really on the page?”, but others confirmed such guesses: “I thought it was fake, but Captain State really came up with such an idea” (original spelling of entries) .

Entries about alleged quarantine for cat ownersTwitter, Facebook

We explain: GIS actually published a communiqué in which it wrote about epidemiological supervision, but it is something other than quarantine. The spokesman for the Chief Sanitary Inspector explains what exactly epidemiological surveillance is about in the case of owners of infected cats.

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“The risk of transmission from cat to human is negligible”

Commented announcement GIS issued on July 4, 2023 “due to finding cases of infection among domestic cats caused by the A/H5N1/flu virus”.

It said that “recently, veterinary services have recorded an increased number of cases of infection of domestic cats” and “results of research indicate that the cause of animal infection is highly pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1/”. Therefore, the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate decided to “take preventive measures (…) by extending epidemiological supervision to the owners/guardians of cats confirmed to be infected with the avian influenza virus”.

At the same time, the communiqué highlighted reassuring passages stating that “the risk of transmission of infection from a sick cat to humans is negligible”, “human infection occurs extremely rarely and only as a result of direct and long-term contact with sick birds”, moreover, “in Poland so far no recorded cases of human infection with influenza A/H5N1/”.

GIS: epidemiological supervision consisted of telephone contact

Therefore, the owners of infected cats were placed under epidemiological surveillance. This does not mean quarantine. The differences were reported during the COVID-19 pandemic when on pages The Ministry of Health wrote: “The basic difference between epidemiological supervision and quarantine is that in the case of quarantine you are not allowed to leave your apartment or place of quarantine.” Also in the act on the prevention and combating of infections and infectious diseases in humans, it was written that epidemiological surveillance is “observation of an infected person or suspected of being infected without limiting his freedom of movement”, while quarantine is “isolation of a healthy person who has been exposed to infection”.

That is why the GIS spokesman, Szymon Cienki, in an interview with Konkret24, calls suggestions about quarantine for cat owners “complete nonsense”. He explains that the epidemiological supervision in this case consisted only of telephone contact of local sanepids with the owners of infected cats every few days. It did not involve any orders or prohibitions, as in the case of quarantine.

The supervision consisted in the fact that we obtained data from the veterinarian (Main Veterinary Inspectorate – ed.) on about thirty owners of these dead cats and preventively called them, as it was during the pandemic, to ask if they had any disease symptoms that could indicate possible infection with influenza A/H5N1/.

– And that’s it, because in general, the risk of transferring avian influenza from a mammal to a mammal is practically impossible, and there has never been such a case in history – continues the spokesman. But we did it to make people feel safe. So I reassure you: of course, nothing alarming has happened, no symptoms have been confirmed in humans – he adds.

Main photo source: Antibusiness/Shutterstock

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