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Cat Owners at Risk of Bird Flu

ning that they had been infected with it at some point, probably through eating infected birds.

Dr Nidom said that many other infected cats would have died from the virus, meaning that many more than 20 per cent may have picked up the infection. Tests in 2004 showed for the first time that cats could catch the virus from each other, not just by eating infected birds.

Scientists are concerned that as the virus replicates in cats it will further adapt to mammals' bodies.

This in turn will give H5N1 the ability to spread more efficiently to people and then from person to person - unleashing a devastating human pandemic.

The new study comes after reports that the virus may already be developing resistance to Tamiflu, the powerful antiviral drug on which the NHS is relying to stem the spread of the disease.

In late December, a man and his niece died of H5N1 flu in Egypt - even though they had been taking Tamiflu. Both were found to be infected with a mutated version of the virus, making it partially resistant to the drug. They had been on Tamiflu for only two days - meaning the virus may have been resistant before they caught it.

The news is a concern because it had previously been thought that Tamiflu-resistant strains are not usually contagious because the mutations that make it resistant also cripple it.

Scientists predict that once the virus mutates to allow it to spread between humans, it will take between six and eight months to develop a new drug to combat it.



Source: Bio-Bio Technology
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