Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bird to Cat to Human Influenza Transmission

A couple weeks ago, there was a report of a veterinarian who worked in a Manhattan shelter with sick cats, who was infected with a strain of avian influenza (H7N2). Pretty weird stuff really, it's only been documented twice in humans and never related to cats, and it prompted an unusual health emergency that has public health advocates sending out warnings to pet owners.
Image result for cat with bird
Cat - Bird Influenza - Possible transmission method
The veterinarian in question ended up with a very mild illness for a short period of time and has recovered, according to a letter from Corinne Schiff, acting deputy commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 
This is a pretty rare situation (at least not documented previously) but it is confounded by the fact that the cases of seasonal influenza are currently increasing.
More than likely, if you have flu-like symptoms and have cats or exposure to cats, you have normal influenza or a common cold. However, if you have contact with a sick cat of any kind, and then develop an illness, I would recommend mentioning it to your physician.
Currently, H3N2 is peaking (hopefully) in Canada and in the US. H3N2 is the most popular strain representing about 99% of the cases this year. H3N2 is a little bit rougher, typically on the elderly. If you haven't gotten the flu vaccine yet this year, WTF are you waiting for! But seriously, better late then never.