The National Association of Italian Veterinary Physicians, or ANMVI reports five dogs and a cat from a poultry farm in Brescia, in Lombardy region, have tested positive for influenza A(H5N1) virus, according to a local media account.
This farm is currently home to an outbreak of avian flu. Furthermore, the virus is the same as cases detected in seagulls.
However, we must not make easy alarmism, the report continues. Although a marker of mammalian adaptation was detected in the birds, in this case the dogs and cats in which seroconversion (i.e., the presence of detectable antibodies) was ascertained had simply been in close contact with a high number of birds in a rural poultry farm where there was an outbreak of bird flu.
These are considered sporadic and isolated cases that occur only under certain conditions.
The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the situation. As per protocol, the Directorate-General for Animal Health and Veterinary Medicines has already informed the regional departments of the certified seroconversion of the dogs and cats that lived in this poultry farm in Brescia which was already kept under control due to an outbreak of high pathogenicity found in the birds bred here.
The Reference Center of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe) carried out the genetic analysis of the virus found in the birds that died in the aforementioned outbreak, finding traces of the H5N1 virus belonging to the 18.104.22.168b clade, the same virus that had been previously found in some northern Italian gulls.
The following recommendations are offered:
- seasonal flu vaccination for staff who, due to work reasons, are in contact with animals that could be a source of infection
- monitoring the health status of exposed people
- avoid touching and coming into contact with any domestic or wild animals or signs of illness that you may find around
- implementation of surveillance plans in wild birds
- given the recent cases of H5N1 virus in foxes and of seroconversion in some dogs and cats in Brescia, intensification of passive surveillance in wild mammals (with particular reference to subjects found dead)
- avoid contact between outside animals and farmed animals