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Influenza A H7N2 virus causing illness in cats in Manhattan shelters
  • Since November 10, 2016 several cats have tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza H7N2 virus at the Animal Care Centers (ACC) of NYC.
  • There have been two previously documented human cases of low pathogenic avian influenza H7N2 infection in the United States – one in a farmer who worked closely with chickens in 2002 and the other with an unknown source in 2003. Both of these patients recovered.
  • All shelter staff (NY) and volunteers exposed to the cats are being tested.
  • All of the symptomatic cats have symptoms of respiratory illness consisting of any of the following signs: lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, and sneezing.
  • Cats moved from the NY shelter to NJ are being traced and none have developed signs of the disease to date.
  • This virus is different from the seasonal influenza viruses that circulate among people but is similar to the virus found in birds.
  • Last known H7N2 positive in poultry was in the live bird marketing system in NY and NJ prior to 2006.
  • Testing among the dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and poultry in the shelter has been negative.
  • There is currently no evidence that H7N2 is circulating in pets outside of the shelter.
  • Testing for H7N2 is only recommended in situations in which a cat that was recently adopted from the Manhattan ACC shelter developed a respiratory illness within 10 days of exiting the shelter.
  • Poultry and swine are known susceptible species and any signs of illness noted should be reported to their veterinarian. LPAI H7 is a reportable disease and detection or suspicion of the disease must be reported to the State Veterinarian at (609) 671-6400 within 48 hours for any susceptible species suspected of having the virus.
  • The NJ Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (AHDL) is available to assist with testing for H7 strains in cats and other susceptible species. For inquiries, contact the NJ AHDL.  Phone: (609) 406-6999; Fax: (609) 671-6414 web: http://jerseyvetlab.nj.gov.