First it's discovered that cats might be capable of transmitting Toxoplasma gondii, a mind-controlling parasite that they catch from mice, to their human caretakers. Now it appears that our feline friends might also be vectors for bird flu, reports MedicalXpress.
A New York City veterinarian appears to have been infected with H7N2, a known strain of bird flu, that could be directly linked to an outbreak among cats housed at animal shelters throughout the city. It's only the third known case of H7N2 infection ever recorded in humans in the United States, but if cats prove to be a vector for the disease, it could be cause for greater concern.
"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 Dr. Mary Bassett, city health commissioner. "We are contacting people who may have been exposed and offering testing as appropriate."
The good news is that no other cases have yet been discovered. More than 80 percent of people who adopted cats from the animal shelter have already been checked, as well as more than 160 employees and volunteers from shelters that housed sick cats. So far the disease has been worse for the cats; one has died from the outbreak while more than 100 have gotten sick.
If your cat is acting ill, it might be best to keep it quarantined, at least until the process of disease transmission can be better understood. The city's health department is urging people to avoid close facial contact and nuzzling with their sick pets. And unless you or your cat are in a particularly dire state, it's probably also best to stay home rather than flood vet treatment centers with new patients.