First Bird Flu From Cat To Human Detected In New York; Adoption From Shelters Suspended

By R. A. Jayme - 26 Dec '16 05:30AM

A first known transmission of bird flu from cats to humans has been reported. According to sources, a veterinarian in the US has been infected with a strain of avian flu that spread among more than 100 cats at animal shelters.

Fortunately, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) in the US said that its ongoing investigation of the outbreak of H7N2, a strain of influenza A virus among cats housed at Animal Care Centres (ACC) shelters confirms that the risk to humans is low, according to Indian Express.

The infected anonymous veterinarian was involved in obtaining respiratory specimens from sick cats. The illness was mild, short-lived, and has been resolved. The Health Department conducted a screening and has not found to have infection on more than 160 employees and volunteers, including several people who had similar exposure to sick cats. The Health Department also contacted more than 80 per cent of the people who adopted cats from the shelter and none is suspected of having H7N2, as reported by SIlive.

In previous reports, there have been two documented human cases of H7N2 infection in the US. First, a person who was managing an outbreak of the virus in turkeys and chickens in 2002. Second, an individual with an unknown source in 2003, according to US Health News.

Both had mild illness and had successfully recovered. Meanwhile, this is the first reported case due to exposure to an infected cat as there is still no documented human-to-human transmission. "Our investigation confirms that the risk to human health from H7N2 is low, but we are urging New Yorkers who have adopted cats from a shelter or rescue group within the past three weeks to be alert for symptoms in their pets," said Health Commissioner Mary T Bassett.

Among the testing conducted across NYC shelter since last week, More than 100 cats have tested positive for H7N2. This was not a surprise as the virus is highly contagious among cats. All of the newly infected cats are experiencing mild illness and have been separated from other animals in the shelters.

One cat already died that was admitted to the shelter with H7N2 infection. Consequently, ACC automatically suspended adoptions of cats once the virus was discovered. The Health Department, togther with the ACC has provided a location where the cats will be quarantined soon. After completion of the quarantine process and ensure public safety, ACC will allow to resume full intake and adoption of cats.

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