Monday • October 31, 2005
Letter from Dawn Kua
We refer to your article “Bird flu puzzle in Indonesia” (Oct 28). We are concerned that your article may give your readers the mistaken impression that cats are spreading the disease.
The article with the photo caption “A CAT-ASTROPHE?” may also spread alarm among the public.
What your article did not mention is that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Indonesian representative, Georg Petersen, said that the WHO has no reports of anyone contracting the virus from animals other than poultry and that no other animals, other than poultry or pig, are sources of the bird flu infection.
Mr Petersen also said that they are not yet concerned that animals, such as cats, may be spreading the disease.
Furthermore, Professor Michael Lai, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Southern California, has pointed out that given that avian flu has been around for a while, it cannot be that transmission of the virus occurs easily in cats.
We would otherwise have observed widespread flu infection in cats in areas where there have been cases of avian flu outbreaks. This did not happen.
While we do understand that the bird flu is a source of major concern for all of us, and we appreciate the coverage that your newspaper gives to it, we are concerned that misinformation can lead to undue alarm.