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Cats – what do they get sick from? Is Avian Flu in Store-bought Poultry Killing Cats? Ministry: It’s manipulation

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The Ministry of Agriculture is responding to reports that a virus from poultry meat is responsible for the disease in cats. – There is no risk to consumers. We are against undermining the quality of Polish poultry – says Krzysztof Ciecióra, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. As emphasized by the chief veterinarian Paweł Niemczuk, “only healthy poultry is sent to the slaughterhouse”. Experts also reassure that less and less infected cats go to hospitals.

On Wednesday (July 5) at 9 o’clock at the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, a press conference on mass cat diseases was held.

– We are in absolutely no danger. There is no risk to consumers. Information that the virus is found in raw poultry meat is unproven. This is manipulation, a kind of attempt to undermine the quality of Polish poultry – informs Krzysztof Ciecióra, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

A virologist from the Małopolska Center of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University, Prof. Krzysztof Pyrć, responsible for the molecular test for the presence of the virus.

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– A press release has been published which suggests that the results of research carried out by our scientific teams have shown that cats have been infected with the A/H5N1 bird flu virus in recent weeks through contaminated meat from Polish poultry. This is not true, we have not shown anything like that. We only showed that in one of the five cat food samples we received, we found this virus, both in the form of nucleic acids and in the form of an infectious virus – he explains.

He adds that this does not mean that poultry was the source of infection, but it actually indicates that “this path should be very well examined by the relevant services.”

– So as to ensure not only safety for animals and people in Poland, but also safety for the poultry industry, in order to avoid both image and economic losses in the future – he points out.

What kills cats?

As emphasized by Ciecióra, the National Veterinary Institute in Puławy is the only authoritative laboratory in Poland and it does not confirm the information provided by prof. Pyrcia.

– The material in the sample could have come from the environment – says Stanisław Winiarczyk, director of the National Veterinary Institute.

Chief veterinarian Paweł Niemczuk assured several times that “only healthy poultry can be slaughtered”.

Virus genetic material in meat?

Let us remind you that more than 3 weeks ago, the Internet was circulated with information about cats suffering from respiratory and neurological symptoms and high mortality. According to the announcement of the Chief Veterinary Officer, the results of the tests indicate the virus of highly pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1 as the cause of animal infection.

Explanation the matter was dealt with, among others, by experts at the Małopolska Center of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University. They determined that one of the most likely causes of infection of cats with the H5N1 virus is food, specifically raw meat.

Experts from three research teams obtained five samples of meat that cats had eaten before they died.

“The analysis showed that one of the five samples contained the virus. Further analysis showed that the meat contains not only the genetic material of the virus, but also the infectious virus” – said Prof. Pyrć on Twitter. He adds that scientists were able to isolate virus in cell cultures.

Owners of infected cats under epidemiological surveillance

Due to H5N1 virus infections in cats, preventive measures have been taken to prevent the occurrence of influenza in humans. Owners and carers of infected cats have been placed under epidemiological supervision, GIS announced on Tuesday.

At the same time, it was emphasized that human infection occurs extremely rarely and only as a result of direct and prolonged contact with sick birds. The possibility of infection mainly concerns people professionally in contact with poultry and wild birds.

In Poland, no cases of human infection with the A/H5N1/ influenza virus have been registered so far, emphasized the Chief Sanitary Inspector.

Main photo source: TVN24

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