In the city of Seoul, three more suspected cases of avian influenza (AI) in cats have been reported, just four days after two cats at an animal shelter in the city were confirmed to have been infected. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs stated that the three suspected cases of H5N1 virus infections were found at a cat shelter in Gwanak-gu, Seoul. It will take two or three days to determine if the infections were highly pathogenic, resulting in severe morbidity and mortality.
Last week, two cats at a shelter in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, were confirmed to have been infected with a highly pathogenic AI strain. This marked the first infections of the virus in mammals in seven years in South Korea. The shelter had reported multiple cat deaths, with 38 cats dying since late last month. As a precaution, the shelter was disinfected and kept off limits.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and local administration are investigating individuals who had contact with the infected cats to determine if they may have contracted AI. So far, no one who had contact with the cats has shown symptoms.
As with the confirmed cases in Yongsan-gu, individuals categorized as “high-risk” who have had contact with the suspected cases will be closely monitored for 10 days. Currently, only one person is being monitored and has not shown any symptoms.
Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has been spreading throughout Europe in recent years. This has led to the culling of millions of birds on French farms alone and has affected the supply of poultry meat and eggs. The World Organization for Animal Health has expressed concern about the global spread of the disease and the increase in mammalian cases.
Instances of cats being infected with bird flu have also been reported in Poland, although no human infections have been reported. However, the World Health Organization has confirmed four human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) in Cambodia, China, and Chile.
The situation in Seoul is being closely monitored, and efforts are being made to prevent the further spread of the virus. By Kim So-hyun.