Pet Bird Flu Information Center
Avian Influenza H5N1 Information for Pet Owners. We hope this information will reduce the number and severity of bird flu cases in cats, dogs and other pets by increasing your knowledge of the disease and thereby helping you become be better prepared to keep your pets safe in these troubled times of Pet Bird Flu, Cat Bird Flu, Dog Bird Flu, Avian Influenza, Avian Flu, H5N1. The Pet Bird Flu Information Center is a Polson Enterprises web site.
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For Information specific to Dogs,
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For information specific to Pet Birds,
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Government Bird Flu Statements
Safety Guidelines for Handling and Disposing of Dead Wild Birds Hong Kong government
Bird Flu Issues That Don't Seem to Have Yet Reached Public Awareness
In the United States, the general public is aware that bird flu exists, and that it may eventually be a threat to humans here. Potential dangers to pets are much less widely known, but the issues below do not seem to be being raised anywhere (as of 16 March 2006).
If you are aware of any other issues surrounding bird flu and pets, or partially domesticated birds that seem unraised in the media, please drop us an email.
- Waterfowl hunting with dogs as retrievers - this appears to be a huge potential risk to dogs in areas of infection. To date, bird flu is not in the U.S. (we hope), but most assume Avian flu will at least appear here in wild birds in the future. When it does waterfowl hunting will create exposure for both dogs and humans (including those cleaning the birds).
- Public pigeons - many parks have flocks of pigeons in public areas. Some studies show pigeons to be reasonably resistant to bird flu. Even if they are- there will be public outcry against them if bird flu is detected in the region.
- Public geese - many areas (including ours in Stillwater OK) have several flocks of year-round geese that move between the parks, local lakes, golf courses, city streets and even peoples yards. Several potential exposure paths exist (dogs chasing live birds, cats or dogs eating dead birds, cats or dogs being infected by feces or other body excretions, pets being infect by loose feathers - plus obvious potential human exposure directly to the geese or from pets infected by them). These flocks will receive great attention in the event bird flu arrives here. To date - no one seems to be trying to formulate a plan to deal with them. All we have locally is a "border collie for hire" trying to run them off certain areas and the geese have been winning for a few years. We also have a flock on the Oklahoma State University Campus at Theta pond that has been here for generations.
- 20 March 2006 "Avian Flu Could Bring Economic Ills FLU: A Pandemic Would be Worse than Katrina" Inside Business: The Hampton Roads Business Journal cites Edward Oldfield, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Eastern Virginia Medical School and head of hospital epidemiology at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, raising concern for golfers tracking infecte geese feces into the cars, homes and offices. He also said "the avian virus can survive in bird feces for more than a month in low temperatures.".
- 21 March 2006 "How a Pandemic Takes Wing" Business Week Online article reports a veterinary pathologist at New York's Bronx Zoo, Tracey McNamara, is concerned about the bird flu virus in the feces of infected wild birds. She stated, "Geese produce a pound of feces a day and some studies have found that viruses can survive there for up to a week."
- The ANNEX to a recent study, "Animal Health and Welfare Aspects of Avian Influenza" by hte European Food Safety Authority provides in depth studies on the life of other pathogenic avian influenza, not specifically H5N1, in feces on Pages 65-67.
- Many rest homes use pets with Sr. Citizens as "Pet Therapy". Several of those Seniors are elderly and have other health issues. An infectation of Bird Flu could be fatal. Bird Flu could quickly infect the population of a rest home due to the confined conditions, then rapidly spread to other rest homes by health care worker contamination.
- Many very small rural communities have free ranging chickens that create a possible exposure to the virus. An recent article in the Wall Street Journal (16 March 2006) titled, "Key West's Many Chickens May Run Afoul of Bird Flu Fears" points out Florida tourism community, has a couple thousand chickens roaming free on public land.
- People frequently "smuggle" cats and small dogs on airplanes in carry on bags. One study reports also finding falcons smuggled like this. If these pets are contaminated, the geography of the outbreak expands.
- A 15 March 2006 "Cats And Avian Influenza, Defra Urgently Seeking Further Independent, Scientific Advice, UK" Medical News Today report indicates some people may plan on abandoning their pet in hopes of avoiding catching bird flu themselves. They are being told "The welfare of pet animals is seriously compromised when they are abandoned and they are at risk from starvation or accident and are more vulnerable to disease." If the disease strikes many may abandon pets making the situation worse.
- 21 March 2006 "FDA Moves to Stop the Use of 2 Drugs in Poultry Amid Bird-Flu Fears" Wall Street Journal reports the FDA is proposing to ban, beginning this summer the use of "off-label nonhuman uses" of Tamiflu, Relenza, Symmetrel, and Flumadine (drugs currently being stockpiled for potential human use in event of Bird Flu outbreaks in the United States). The proposed ban is an attempt to prevent further mutation of the virus in birds before a potential jump to humans. (more info on our Bird Flu News Page for 21 March 2006 and 20 March 2006). The proposed law bans use in chickens, turkeys and ducks. It is not hard to envision the FDA broadening this ban in the future to include at least some pets (beyond any pet chickens, turkeys or ducks included in the current ban). We can envision pet owners stockpiling Tamiflu for their pets and giving it to them themselves, or even giving their own dose to their pet instead of to themselves.
- 24 March 2006 - many people caring for and handling chickens in the U.S. are Hispanic. I wonder if the U.S. government has thought about translating H5N1 materials into languages where needed?
- 26 March 2006 - if people get scared they may start dumping dogs like they have in Europe. Some of these dogs may "pack" and become agressive.
- 26 March 2006 - Although not yet confirmed as a path, it is possible that people may be able to infect cats/dogs with the disease, creating another potential hazard for pets. (as well as the also not confirmed path from cats/dogs to humans). So just protecting your pets from birds and other pets may not be enough.
- 27 March 2006 - Will public parks in infected areas be closed to pets, even pets on leashes?
- 28 March 2006 - What about guide dogs for the blind. Will they be welcome visitors in public places?
- 28 March 2006 - Unattended dogs may dig up buried infected animals. This may be a reason to take action against feral / wild dogs?
- 28 March 2006 - The general public seems to anticipate that bird flu may reach the U.S., be here for a normal "flu season" and then be gone forever. Many scientist anticipate that if it does reach the U.S., it will be here for several years.
- 28 March 2006 - West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitos carring blood from one infected host to the next. Since Bird Flu is a respiratory and digestive track disease we would not anticipate it to be carried by mosquitos, but it would be nice for the labs in the know to make some statements in this area. We have already seen a couple firms selling products to rid an area of mosquitos as providing a level of protection against bird flu.
Bird Flu Research Studies on Pets Other than Dogs or Cats
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Pet Bird Flu Information Center
provides the latest information on how to keep your pets safe from Bird Flu.
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