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bf tests for cats

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    Posted: March 10 2006 at 6:13pm

It seems that vets can get results.

Bird flu test available for all Austrian cats, for a small fee

Fri Mar 10, 1:56 PM ET

VIENNA (AFP) - Austrian cat owners can now allay their fears about bird flu and have their pets tested for the disease, after several cats in Germany and Austria were found carrying the H5N1 virus.

The test consists of a quick swab of the cat's throat, which can be done by any veterinarian doctor for a fee, and results come back in a matter of days.

This initiative, launched by the Austrian Federal Chamber of Veterinarians and the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), is the first of its kind and comes after Germany recently announced several cases of the potentially deadly H5N1 virus in cats.

Earlier this week, Austrian authorities also said three cats in the south of the country had carried the virus but had since rejected it.

"Cat owners came to vets in huge numbers and wanted to put their cats to sleep, for no reason," spokesman for the Chamber of Veterinarians, Johannes Weiss, told AFP Friday.

He said he had received many calls from worried cat owners and so the initiative was as much "a reassurance for the population as a necessity."

"The method is not new, but that it is offered on such a scale" is a first, AGES spokesman Oskar Wawschinek told AFP.

A sample is taken by a veterinarian and sent to the AGES lab on the outskirts of Vienna where it is tested using a polymerase chain reaction which then helps determine if the cat carries the virus.

The whole process takes about a week, taking into account transfer of the sample to and from the lab and the time needed to do the analysis.

But each test costs between 100 and 120 euros (120 and 142 dollars) and so many cat owners might think twice before having their cats tested, Wawschinek said. _060310185658

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