Veterinarians and public health expects became quite concerned when 45 cats at Animal Care and Control in Manhattan, New York, came down with a rare strain of the bird flu. Influenza A virus, known as low pathogenic avian influenza H7N2, has been identified in the 45 cats housed at the Manhattan shelter.
While the virus poses a low risk to humans, health officials are concerned that it could have infected additional cats that have already been adopted from the shelter. First Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot told Daily News:
“Although this strain of the avian flu has only resulted in mild to moderate illness in some cats located in one shelter, we have begun to test staff and people in close contact with the cats out of an abundance of caution. We will continue to actively monitor all people involved and adapt our response accordingly.”
Symptoms of the flu include persistent cough, lip smacking, runny nose, and fever. Officials are urging anyone who adopted a cat as recently as November from the shelter in Manhattan to call the Health Department at 866-692-3641 for care instructions and to keep their cat separated from other animals if they show any of these signs. To date, one of the infected cats – an older kitty who had underlying health issues – has died as a result of pneumonia from the infection.
This flu virus is spreading from cat to cat and may be able to spread to other animals and possibly even humans. Officials are also advising these pet owners to call the Health Department if they develop fever with a sore throat, fever with a cough, or red, inflamed eyes. No human infections have been identified to date, or in any other species. So far, ACC has tested 20 dogs at the shelter, and none of them have contracted the virus – so far it is limited only to cats. Testing of other animals, including rabbits and guinea pigs, is ongoing.