BERLIN -- Reuters is reporting today that pet owners in areas of Germany hard-hit by bird flu have been told to "keep their cats indoors, their dogs leashed and watch their animals for strange behavior" as some officials worry that the pets might expose humans to the virus.



A dead cat infected with the H5N1 virus was found Tuesday, likely dead from eating an infected bird.



According to Reuters, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the case probably does not increase the risk to humans of a disease which has killed at least 93 people since late 2003. But some experts have said cat-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out.



"Cats must be kept away from infected birds ... and in protection zones, cats should be kept in houses," Till Backhaus, agriculture minister in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Reuters reported him saying at a news conference.



"It is important that pet owners keep a close eye on their animals for symptoms of a cold, diarrhea, abnormal fatigue, fever, and if these signs emerge, a veterinarian should be contacted."



SOURCE: Reuters news report.