February 2006, Ruegen Island, Germany
A domestic cat in Germany became the first European Union mammal to die of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.
The cat was found dead on the Baltic island of Ruegen, where dozens of birds infected with H5N1 have been found. It is suspected that the cat contracted the disease by eating infected birds. Pet owners on the island have been advised to keep cats inside for the time being.
Further north, Sweden has detected "aggressive" bird flu in two wild ducks and is testing to confirm H5N1.
Vets from 50 countries have been meeting in Paris for a second day to discuss ways to combat the virus.
Three rare civet cats in Vietnam died of bird flu last August 2005. In October 2004, dozens of tigers died at a private zoo in Thailand after a bird flu outbreak.
There are no recorded cases of cat-to-human infection, but the German finding will raise concerns of further cross-species transmission.
March 2006, Vienna, Austria,
Several cats have tested positive for the deadly strain of bird flu in Austria's first reported case of the disease spreading to an animal other than a bird.
According to the latest World Health Organization figures, the H5N1 strain has killed at least 94 people since 2003, mostly in Asia, and devastated poultry stocks. .
With the exception of Australia and New Zealand, which are not hit by bird migrations from affected areas, the rest of the world is directly exposed.
H5N1 does not yet pose a large-scale threat to humans. However, experts fear the virus could mutate and trigger a flu pandemic, potentially putting millions of human lives at risk.
Photo Courtesy AP