Bird Flu Strain May Spread From Cat To Humans

Posted: Dec 25 2016, 9:28pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 25 2016, 11:26pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Bird Flu Strain may Spread from Cat to Humans
Photo Credit: Getty Images
 

A vet at New York City animal shelter, who worked with sick cats, appears to have been infected with a strain of avian flu.

Bird flu, as the name suggests, typically affects birds, chickens and other poultry. This avian influenza can pose risks to humans too.

According to New York City health officials, a veterinarian at a local animal shelter has been infected with a strain of bird flu called H7N2. In this animal shelter, hundreds of cats are already infected with the virus. If the vet is tested positive for bird flu, it would be the first known case of bird flu transmission from cat to human.

The infected person has seemingly recovered from the virus. However, the case has prompted calls for caution.

“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.” City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a health department news release.

H7N2 is a subtype of Influenza A virus, which is considered a low pathogenicity avian influenza. Animals including cats are susceptible to various human and avian flu viruses but they are generally not associated with spreading them to humans.

According to NBC News, more than 160 employs and volunteers who have been in close contact with sick cats are being tested by health department but none of them has shown any sign of the disease.

H7N2 is a rarely diagnosed strain of influenza. There have been only two documented cases of transmission of H7N2 to humans in United States but neither was linked to cats or other animal. The patients who were diagnosed with virus were also fully recovered and did not cause outbreaks.

“As a general rule, influenza is what concerns us most,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are always concerned about the possibility of re-assortment between animal flu and human flu so, this is something that we have been watching very closely.”

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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