Bird Flu Crisis Escalates: Virus Spreads to Pets and Wildlife in 31 US States

Jun 24, 2024

Bird flu, a highly contagious form of avian influenza, has demonstrated worrying zoonotic spread in recent weeks. The virus is spreading quickly throughout the United States, affecting a few human lives and infecting four people thus far.

The virus, which was previously restricted to farmed poultry and wild birds, has been found in cats in 31 states, with a few cases also being found in dogs. Concerns are raised about possible human exposure as well as animal health, especially for pet owners.

Thirty-one US states are affected by bird flu

As reported by USA Today, the virus has already infected mice, foxes, mountain lions, alpacas, and cows in 12 states. In the last several months, the virus has swiftly spread throughout the country among dairy cows, infecting over 90 herds, despite early expert assurances that it would not damage dairy products.

In addition to these animals, the H5N1 virus has also inflicted damage to dairy, poultry, and three farm labourers who were infected. Still, the true concern seems to be growing because dogs and cats have also been reported to have occasional cases of the virus.

According to reports, since 1 March, over 21 domestic cats in nine US states have developed the illness. The research claims that although infections were spreading throughout dairy farms, a small number of sick and deceased cats showed symptoms of illness that were missed.

It has long been known by researchers that cats may catch avian influenza. According to Kristen Coleman, a University of Maryland researcher, "Domestic cats are actually highly susceptible to avian influenza, especially H5N1," as reported by the New York Times.

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