Following up on a similar post of mine last week regarding influenza and non-human animals, New York City’s sheltered cats have been quarantined for being exposed to or infected with H7N2. While nearly 400 cats have tested positive for H7N2, 500 total are being quarantined to attempt to limit the spread of this influenza virus in the NYC area and its surrounding boroughs. This outbreak began in late October and was likely caused by a kitten named Alfred who was brought to a shelter during that time period.
The greatest mystery during this outbreak is how a virus last seen in 2006 in poultry infected a small kitten in the Bronx. Alfred, case zero, demonstrated the common symptoms seen in infected cats: “runny nose and eyes, congestion, coughing and lip smacking,” before dying in mid November. The good news is that the majority of the shelter cats will avoid Alfred’s fate as they are being cared for in an isolated warehouse where volunteers and animal-crisis workers are feeding, watching, and medicating the sick cats.
- Devon Z.