Cat In S Korea Infected With Deadly H5N1 Strain Of Bird Flu

SEOUL (AFP)--A cat found dead in a South Korean city was infected with a virulent strain of bird flu, the first mammal in the country known to have had the H5N1 virus, health officials said Tuesday.

They said it was the first report of a cat having had the virus since a case in Thailand in 1996, but there was little risk to humans as there has never been a known transmission of the virus from a cat to other mammals.

"It is quite rare for a cat to be infected by the avian flu virus," Cho Hyun-ho, a deputy director of the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service, said.

Cats and dogs aren't usually susceptible to the virus so quarantine officials don't usually check them, but restrict checks to animals that have regular contact with birds.

The cat was found dead in April in Gimje, about 250 km south of Seoul.

"It probably had eaten a sick bird or came in very close contact with chickens or ducks," an unidentified quarantine inspector told the South Korean Yonhap news agency.

"Still, it's a shame to waste it," said the inspector flicking through the ever-popular "101 Ways To Stir Fry Your Pet" - Nogger