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Science File | IN BRIEF

Cats Can Catch, Spread the Avian Flu Virus

September 04, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Cats can get the avian influenza virus decimating bird flocks across Asia, which means pets are at risk for getting and spreading the disease -- and may serve as a mixing pot for dangerous new mutations, Dutch researchers reported Thursday.

In an experiment, cats caught the H5N1 flu virus by breathing it in and by eating infected chicks, the team of virus experts at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam said.

"This is extraordinary, because domestic cats are generally considered to be resistant to disease from influenza A virus infection," the researchers reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

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