A Thermopolis cat has tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza after eating a bird, state officials said. It is the first known case of a cat infected with the virus in the U.S.
The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory said a barn cat tested positive for what is also known as the bird flu. The lab believes the cat likely contacted the virus by eating wild waterfowl. Cats are notorious for hunting and eating birds when given the opportunity.
"This is the first report of HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) in a domestic cat in Wyoming, and it likely became infected from ingesting meat from wild waterfowl," the lab said.
There is no available bird flu vaccine in the U.S.
The virus is widespread among avian species, but in recent months has also been found in Wyoming mountain lions and a red fox. A dog in Canada died of the bird flu last week. According to BNO News, in late 2022, a cat living near a duck farm in France also tested positive for H5N1. The cat became severely ill and had to be euthanized.
"The global H5N1 situation is worrying given the wide spread of the virus in birds around the world and the increasing reports of cases in mammals, including in humans," Dr. Sylvie Briand, a World Health Organization official, said on February 24. "WHO takes the risk from this virus seriously and urges heightened vigilance from all countries."
Signs of contagion include change of behavior, loss of awareness of surroundings and energy.
"These signs may be indistinguishable from an animal infected with rabies," the lab reported.
The state veterinary lab recommends submitting an entire carcass for testing and to contact Wyoming Game and Fish with carcass disposal recommendations.
Gloves should be used at all times when handling dead mammals and birds, state officials said.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at: Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com