Authorities in northeastern Thailand have sent veterinarians to villages after the death of more than 20 cats. File Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Cats are dying from a deadly flu in northeastern Thailand, but local authorities say the disease cannot be transmitted to humans.
The provincial administration of Nakhon Rachasima said veterinarians are being sent to villages where more than 20 cats have died from "cat flu," or feline respiratory disease, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Monday.
Reports of the disease could be raising concern among residents of a village in Kham Sakaesaeng district, according to Thai PBS World. Previous outbreaks nearly wiped out the local cat population, residents say.
Doctors are telling locals that the feline flu does not infect people or other animals. Thai veterinarians said they have administered medicines to infected cats and the epidemic is under control, according to Xinhua.
Cat flu spreads rapidly among cats and kittens. The cause of the disease is the feline herpesvirus type-1 and the feline calicivirus. Sick cats show several symptoms, including sneezing, coughing, runny eyes and tongue ulcers.
The feline disease also may have hit a cat population in the central Thai province of Anthong in 2012. According to Nation Thailand at the time, several cats were found dead at a local temple. Officials said cat flu was the cause of death, and that the virus could also spread to dogs.
"Before they died, they would have sores on their bodies, coughs, runny noses, no appetite, and convulsions," said Payao Inman, a Buddhist nun who said there were about 200 cats in the area, according to the 2012 report.
"If the disease hit a mother cat, it would claim the lives of the mother and the kittens," she said.
Thailand has said it has brought COVID-19 under control since the country's first outbreak in January. On Saturday, Thailand's Disease Control Department said recent cases originating from people crossing illegally from Myanmar have "all been accounted for," according to Nation Thailand.