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WHO: No need to panic over cats catching H5N1 virus
Updated: 2004-02-20 13:43

There's no need to panic over a suspected case of cat catching the H5N1 virus causing avian influenza, the World Health Organization experts said in Bangkok on Friday morning.

Further investigation had yet to be carried out to prove the reason of the cat's death and find out how it had been infected with the virus, WHO official Somchai Thirapakorn was quoted by Thailand's National Radio as saying.

Thailand's Kasetsart University on Friday declared that their lab test showed that a cat in Bangkok had died for contracting the highly contagious H5N1 virus that caused the prevalent bird flu epidemic.

More details of the test would be presented at a press conference held by the university on Friday.

Saying that the WHO had noticed the latest development, Somchai insisted that it's still too early to draw conclusion.

It's not clear how the cat had contracted the disease and whether it's affected by the same strain of virus that caused the avian influenza, said the WHO expert.

Even the virus did jump from bird to the cat, it had yet to prove whether the virus would be transmitted between mammal and human, he noted.

For the above reasons, Somchai urged the public to keep calm and said there was no need to panic.

On Monday, the Thai government confirmed that a cloud leopard in a zoo had died of the virus causing bird flu. This was the first case that mammal had been infected with the disease.

The government also said a white tiger in the zoo affected earlier by the disease had recovered.

Officials from Thailand's Public Health Ministry also reportedly downplayed the report of the cat case, saying that they had yet to see confirmation.

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