Cats and Sars
Thought you might be interested in what the BBC is saying about the SARS virus and cats.
Domestic cats 'could carry Sars'
Cats and other pets could become infected with Sars, say scientists researching the deadly virus.
Domestic cats and ferrets exposed to Sars in the laboratory developed
symptoms of the illness - and passed it on to other animals, they found.
The team from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam says that the precise risk to humans is unclear.
They say it is more clear evidence of the infectiousness of Sars - which killed more than 750 earlier this year.
Sars is thought to have originated in southern China, jumping from
animals such as civet cats in wild animal markets into humans, before
spreading rapidly around the world.
The virus is so promiscuous that it is not unlikely to suppose that it
is still out there, in different species Professor Albert Osterhaus,
Erasmus Medical Centre
It causes a severe form of pneumonia which can kill quickly if patients are not given medical assistance.
Even though no new cases have been reported for months, the medical
community has been warned not to let down its guard, as it is possible
the virus, or something similar, could return during the winter.
Writing in the journal Nature, Professor Albert Osterhaus, a leading
virologist at the centre, described the virus as "promiscuous".
"It can infect so many different species - that it is not unlikely to
suppose that it is still out there, in different species, rather than in
just one reservoir.
"If domestic cats could be infected it could actually mean there is a
possibility that it will be transferred from cats to humans, although
that would be a rare event."
The Rotterdam team infected domestic cats, and ferrets, with a virus isolated from a patient who had died from Sars.
The animals developed clear respiratory symptoms - proof of the virus' ability to infect different species.
It is vital that in this 'pause' between the next possible wave of Sars
that robust public health systems are put into place and tested, Dr
James Appleyard, World Medical Association
It is already known that cats living as pets in the Amoy Gardens complex
in Hong Kong - the epicentre of one of the most serious outbreaks - were
found to carry the virus.
However, Professor Osterhaus said that it remained less likely that a human could catch it from a cat than a human.
"Although some cats have been infected during the outbreak in Hong Kong,
I don't think they are really a vector for spreading the virus.
"In the odd circumstances that they might be infected, they can spread
the virus for a very short period of time, but in that situation, humans
are very much more dangerous to themselves than cats are, in sneezing or
leaving the virus on utensils which are picked up by others."
On Wednesday, doctors issued another warning against complacency on Sars.
Dr James Appleyard, the president of the World Medical Association,
said: "Complacency has crept in over several years in many developed
countries, including the UK, where public health systems have been
allowed to run down.
"It is vital that in this 'pause' between the next possible wave of Sars
that robust public health systems are put into place and tested."
Story from BBC NEWS
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