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28 Jun, 2023 13:58

Mysterious illness killing cats across Poland – media

The country’s veterinary authorities investigating the issue are urging owners to keep pets inside
Mysterious illness killing cats across Poland – media

A large number of cats have inexplicably become ill over the past few weeks across Poland, with some dying from a mysterious disease, Polish media have reported. Initial tests have found that some of the deceased animals were contaminated with avian flu, according to news outlet Notes From Poland.

The country’s veterinary authorities are now warning owners to keep their pets indoors and thoroughly wash any balconies and terraces that cats have access to, and to prevent them from contacting other cats or wild animals.

The affected felines reportedly suffered neurological and respiratory symptoms, including high fever, loss of appetite, apathy, seizures, and shortness of breath. Experts suspect that the symptoms point to some kind of contagious illness that is spreading through the country.

Paulina Grzelakowska, director of the Tri-City Veterinary Clinic in Gdansk in northern Poland, said that the disease has a sudden onset and progresses rapidly. “The animals die in a short time,” she told TVN24, noting that cats of all ages have been affected, regardless of whether they were kept indoors or outdoors or had been vaccinated against infectious diseases.

She noted that none of the various treatment schemes applied to the cats have had an effect.

Meanwhile, the chief veterinary office for Poland’s Pomerania province has reported that, out of the 28 cats brought into clinics in the Gdansk area in the last two weeks with such symptoms, 25 have died. Similar reports have also come out of other cities.

The national chief veterinary inspectorate has revealed that out of 11 cats that have so far been tested nationwide, nine have turned out to be positive for H5N1 influenza – a type of avian flu, but noted that “further detailed testing of the genetic material of the viruses is ongoing.”

The exact number of cats that have contracted or died from the illness remains unknown as not all cases are believed to have been reported. On June 19, however, the SpecVet clinic in western Poland stated that there were more than 70 reports of the disease nationwide.

A similar surge in feline deaths occurred in the UK in 2021, when over 350 cats died from a mysterious illness that investigators later found was linked to recalled cat food. The outbreak in feline pancytopenia – a very low red and white blood cell count – was likely caused by mycotoxin found in pet foods that contained potato flakes, researchers claimed.