Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health have said animal species, if at all playing a role in the spread of H5N1, an avian influenza virus, are essentially domestic and wild birds.

Though some 50 non-domestic bird species proved susceptible to infection, it would appear from epidemiological data that among the wild birds implicated in the trans-boundary spread of the virus, aquatic birds played a major role, a joint statement said.

Going by the data accumulated since the start of the avian influenza crisis (the end of 2003), cats did not play any discernable role in the transmission of the virus in the natural setting. Even so, in view of the susceptibility of certain individuals of this species, cats in infected and surveillance zones should be kept indoors, the FAO said.