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H7N2 Confirmed Veterinarian Manhattan New York

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Health Department Investigation of H7N2 Influenza in Shelter Cats Confirms Risk to Humans is Low

One person, of more than 350 people screened, has been found with H7N2; this person is a veterinarian who had prolonged close exposure to respiratory secretions of sick cats at Animal Care Centers of NYC’s (ACC) Manhattan shelter and has recovered from mild illness

Precautionary guidance issued for people who recently adopted a cat from any NYC shelter or rescue group 

http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/about/press/pr2016/pr107-16.page

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Health Department Investigation of H7N2 Influenza in Shelter Cats Confirms Risk to Humans is Low

One person, of more than 350 people screened, has been found with H7N2; this person is a veterinarian who had prolonged close exposure to respiratory secretions of sick cats at Animal Care Centers of NYC’s (ACC) Manhattan shelter and has recovered from mild illness

Precautionary guidance issued for people who recently adopted a cat from any NYC shelter or rescue group 

December 22, 2016 – The Health Department today announced that its ongoing investigation of an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza H7N2, a strain of influenza A virus, among cats housed at Animal Care Centers of NYC’s (ACC) shelters confirms that the risk to humans is low. One person has been found with a presumptive diagnosis of this virus, which was identified by Health Department lab testing and preliminarily confirmed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab testing yesterday. Further testing will be forthcoming in coming days.

The infected person is a veterinarian who was involved in obtaining respiratory specimens from sick cats at the Manhattan shelter. The illness was mild, short-lived, and has resolved. More than 160 ACC employees and volunteers, including several people who had similar exposure to sick cats, were screened by the Health Department and not found to have infection with the H7N2 virus. Additionally, the Health Department contacted more than 80% of the people who adopted cats from the Manhattan shelter, and none is suspected of having H7N2.

There have been two previous documented human cases of H7N2 infection in the United States – one in a person managing an outbreak of the virus in turkeys and chickens in 2002 and the other with an unknown source in 2003. Both of these patients also had mild illness and recovered. This is the first reported case due to exposure to an infected cat. There has been 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 Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We are contacting people who may have been exposed and offering testing as appropriate.”

As a precaution, the Health Department is issuing guidance to health care providers and veterinarians today to provide information on how to manage suspected cases.

Seasonal flu is on the rise in New York City and as always, the Health Department recommends that anyone with flu symptoms should promptly seek medical care, especially if you are pregnant or have an underlying illness or immunocompromising condition which could make seasonal flu more severe.  Speak with your provider to see if you should be started on antivirals.


Although the flu vaccine does not protect against H7N2 virus, the Health Department continues to recommend New Yorkers get vaccinated to prevent seasonal flu. Find a place to get vaccinated here.

New Yorkers should avoid nuzzling and close facial contact with sick cats, especially if they are pregnant or have an underlying disease that affects the immune system, such as cancer, diabetes, or chronic lung disease. 

The Health Department will contact all employees and volunteers at ACC’s three shelters to offer specific guidance to them.

The Health of Infected Cats

Since last week, more than 100 cats have tested positive for H7N2 across all NYC shelters. This was expected because the virus is highly contagious among cats and cats are sometimes moved between shelters. All of the newly infected cats are experiencing mild illness and have been separated from other animals in the shelters. They are expected to recover. One cat admitted to the shelter with H7N2 infection died.  ACC suspended adoptions of cats once the virus was discovered. The Health Department, working with ACC, the ASPCA and New York City Emergency Management, has identified a location where the cats will be quarantined soon, which will allow ACC to resume full intake and adoption of cats.  The ASPCA will assume operational costs and manage the care of the cats.

All other ACC operations have continued. Cats are the only animal species that has tested positive for H7N2. Testing has been conducted by ACC on various other animal species, including dogs and rabbits, and all have tested negative. Until cats are removed to the new location and ACC’s cat facilities are disinfected, New Yorkers are urged not to drop off cats at any ACC shelter. ACC will continue to distribute instructions to all new and recent cat adopters to monitor their cats, which includes guidance on checking animals for upper respiratory illness.

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#104-16
MEDIA CONTACT:
 Maibe Ponet/Julien Martinez, (347) 396-4177
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov

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HEALTH
 

Vet Catches Bird Flu From a Cat in New York

A vet at a New York City animal shelter where cats were infected with a strain of bird flu has also been infected, health officials said Thursday.

The vet only had mild illness from the virus, called H7N2, the New York City Department of Health said.

a_30stk_flu_name.nbcnews-ux-1080-600.jpg
 From H1N1 to H5N2, What's in a Flu Name? 0:42

"The illness was mild, short-lived and has resolved," the department said in a statement.

"More than 160 Animal Care Centers of NYC employees and volunteers, including several people who had similar exposure to sick cats, were screened by the Health Department and not found to have infection with the H7N2 virus," the department said.

Related: Bird Flu Infects Cats at NYC Shelter

"Additionally, the Health Department contacted more than 80 percent of the people who adopted cats from the Manhattan shelter, and none is suspected of having H7N2," the department added.

It's unusual for bird flu to affect cats.

"Since last week, more than 100 cats have tested positive for H7N2 across all NYC shelters," the department said. "This was expected because the virus is highly contagious among cats and cats are sometimes moved between shelters. All of the newly infected cats are experiencing mild illness and have been separated from other animals in the shelters. They are expected to recover."

Vets, doctors and other scientists keep an eye on bird flu because it can and does spread to people and has the potential to cause epidemics. So far, H7N2 hasn't. It has only ever infected a few people.

Related: Keep an Eye Out for H5N2, CDC Says

Still, influenza worries doctors.

"As a general rule, influenza is what concerns us most," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

"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."

Flu viruses mutate constantly and swap big pieces with one another. New pandemics of influenza come when a "new" strain emerges from this mixing process, called re-assortment. Especially worrying is when a strain that easily infects people picks up bits and pieces from animal strains, creating an easily transmitted flu strain that could also be deadly.

Related: H7N9 Flu Spreads Like Ordinary Flu

That doesn't appear to have happened with H7N2 among the cats. The vet who was infected had been testing the sick cats, so had prolonged, close contact with them.

"But any time we have a new strain of flu spreading in animals and in humans we are very much on the alert," Frieden said.

Ordinary influenza is bad enough, killing anywhere from 4,000 to 50,000 Americans a year. New pandemic strains can kill many times that.

People can and do catch flu from animals — and vice-versa. Pigs commonly both catch flu from people and transmit it. The ongoing occasional human cases of H5N1 bird flu and H7N2 bird flu are traced to poultry markets. 

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/vet-catches-bird-flu-cat-new-york-n699316

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