No need to lock up cats, Dutch told

1st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

1 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman has told Dutch cat owners it is not necessary to lock up their pets to prevent them catching bird flu.

1 March 2006

AMSTERDAM — Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman has told Dutch cat owners it is not necessary to lock up their pets to prevent them catching bird flu.

His statement followed news from Germany that a dead cat was infected with the H5N1 strain of the bird flu. This strain is potentially fatal for humans.

Health officials in Germany urged cat owners to keep pets indoors after the body of the cat was discovered over the weekend on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen off Germany's northern coast.

Most of the more than 100 wild birds infected by the H5N1 strain have been found on this island. Experts believe the cat caught the virus after eating a wild bird.

Responding to the news, Veerman said it has long been known that mammals such as cats and pigs can be infected by the virus by eating ill wild birds.

As there is "no H5N1 in the Netherlands", the minister said there was no reason to impose restrictions on the movements of cats.

The Dutch union of fowl owners (NHDB) first raised the issue of a pet curfew two weeks ago when it called on people to voluntarily keep their cats indoors to prevent them contracting and spreading bird flu.

It is estimated there are 3.3 million cats in the Netherlands.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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