Potentially first case of cat-to-human transmission of H7N2 virus under investigation
Public health officials are trying to determine whether a veterinarian who fell sick while treating cats at a New York animal shelter really contracted H7N2, a rare strain of bird flu.
The NYC-based Health & Mental Hygiene Department said that H7N2 was detected in nearly four dozen cats at an animal shelter in Manhattan. Lab tests conducted by University of Wisconsin researchers have confirmed that the infection was caused by the H7N2 virus.
It the veterinarian is also confirmed to have contracted the H7N2 virus, it would means that the virus has jumped from birds into cats; and it would also be the first case of cat-to-human transmission of the devastating virus.
The rare strain of bird flu could also be directly linked to an outbreak among cats housed at various animal shelters throughout the New York City. It cats prove to be a vector for the devastating disease it would be a cause for greater concern.
Dr. Mary Bassett, the NYC’s Health Commissioner, said in a statement, “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.”
In the same statement, Dr. Bassett also assured that health officials were contacting individuals who might have been exposed to the virus.
H7N2 is characterized by seasonal flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, lip smacking, persistent cough and fatigue.
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