A veterinarian may have potentially been infected with a bird flu strain after treating the animal shelter’s feline patients suffering from it.
The incident is believed to have occurred in New York City, at Animal Care Centers. One of the veterinarians working there seems to have been infected with H7N2.
This is a bird flu strain that has been circulating amongst the feline population. Over 100 cats living in the animal shelters of New York City have caught this flu.
For the moment, the cat to human transmission has yet to be confirmed. However, state officials are urging caution.
Currently, the involved veterinarian has recovered from the mild illness. There are no other registered cases of flu amongst the other shelter workers for the moment.
The case could account for the first feline to human bird flu virus transmission. Dr. Mary Bassett released a statement.
Bassett is the New York City Health Commissioner. According to the doctor, the investigation shows the low transmission risk. The city health commission carried out an investigation on the matter.
According to it, the risk of H7N2 affecting humans is low. However, the veterinarian was confirmed to carry the respective bird flu strain.
As such, the city health commission advised for caution. It is urging owners to have recently adopted cats to be on the watch. They should be watching out for flu symptoms in their cats.
The alert targets cats to have been adopted sometimes in the past three weeks time period.
Dr. Bassett also announced that it is offering testing, where appropriate. The authority has already started contacting the potentially involved feline owners.
NYC Animal Care Centers have recently suffered from an H7N2 outbreak. This is a subtype of the influenza A virus. This is an avian or, more commonly known, bird flu strain.
The veterinarian was the only potential case of an H7N2 bird flu infection. A definitive confirmation of the transmission has yet to be attested.
There have been only two other registered cases of this avian flu subtype transmission to humans. Neither one was linked to another human or cat transmission or origin.
Other shelter employees and volunteers were also tested. As such, over 160 people were involved. The veterinarian, who worked with the sick cats, is the only potential case.
NYC health authorities stated that they have contacted most of the new owners. Over 80 percent of the Centers’ recent customers have been contacted.
As of yet, there have been no other potential transmissions. The contacted people showed no signs of possible bird flu infections.
Still, city health authorities still advise caution. As such, ill cat owners should try to avoid close facial encounters with their feline companions. They should also avoid nuzzling with them.
Cat adoptions have been halted, for the moment. Sick cats have also been quarantined and are being treated.
Most of the treated cats are expected to recover and get better. However, a sick cat has unfortunately already died.
According to NYC authorities, this is the only affected species. No other animal housed at the shelter have been infected or are sick.
Officials have also released a further request. City residents are asked to stop dropping off cats. The NYC shelters Animal Care Centers are the target of the demand. For the moment, people should retain from doing so, as it would be safer for the cats.
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