Thursday, 29 October 2009

"Kitten flu" pandemic danger

Even as the vaccinations for H1N1 - commonly known as "swine flu" - are being prepared for rolling out across much of the world, a new strain of the influenza virus is already causing panic, and provoking speculation about a global outbreak.

Dubbed "kitten flu" because of its tendency to spread to humans from domesticated felines, the new strain already has 17 confirmed cases in northern California, having only been recognised this week as a distinct form of the disease. It is thought to be so virulent due to the high proportion of potential carriers in the population - specifically, anyone who finds small furry kittens adorable.

Also contributing to the high rate of transmission (which epidemiologists have described as "alarming") is the fact that, on being warned that a particular feline is a carrier for the disease, many humans will scoop up said epicentre of infection and nuzzle against it enthusiastically, declaring confidently that such a cute fuzzy wuzzy kitten could never spread any nasty diseases, could he now, no he couldn't.

Doctors are strongly advising the public against deliberately rubbing their faces in the flu virus.

Although many health professionals are concerned about the possibility of a kitten flu pandemic, they have also cautioned against unnecessary panic at this stage. "The chances of the virus spreading nationally are still small," said the American Medical Association in a press release today. "The most likely scenario is that it will simply fade away in a fairly short time, much like baby hedgehog flu did a few years ago."

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