Were all familiar with the FLU. This year a rare strain of bird flu has infected nearly 50 cats in a New York City animal shelter. The virus, identified as H7N2, is spreading directly from cat to cat. This marks a first for this viral strain of bird flu.
This is a health concern for the people caring for those cats. Flu Pandemics like the Swine Flu pandemic in 2009 started out the same way with the H1N1 virus jumping from a pig directly to people. The concern is that the same thing might happen with cats. The Health Department and animal shelter in New York City are taking extra precautions as the flu can progress to pneumonia and lead to death.
Flu signs in cats run the gamut from lip smacking, persistent coughing and runny noses to fever, lethargy and appetite loss.
Per the Health Department, currently there are no reported cases of cat to human transmission and the risk of direct spread of the H7N2 flu virus is thought to be low.
It may be wise to avoid allowing a cat with flu-like signs to lick or kiss your face. It’s also a good idea to avoid sleeping and/or cuddling with any cat exhibiting a flu-like illness.
More importantly people that are immune compromised and/or suffering with chronic illnesses including cancer, HIV, heart, lung, liver and kidney disease as well as babies, young children and the elderly should avoid contact with sick cats just to be safe.
Should anyone suspect they may have contracted the flu from their cat, please contact the health department in your state and make a formal report ASAP!