The strain of H7N2 detected is quite similar to the virus that was circulating in the live bird marketing system (LBMS) in NY and NJ prior to 2006 and which caused an outbreak of LPAI in the Virginia poultry industry in 2002/2003. Approximately 20 chickens in the index shelter were tested negative for LPAI H7N2. A number of cats housed in multiple, epidemiologically-linked shelters in NYC were positive for LPAI H7N2. Most of the positive cats have mild respiratory symptoms, while 2 cats have died as a result of the infection. Cats are known to have moved from the positive NYC shelters to other shelters and rescue groups in NY as well as to 4 additional states (PA, NJ, ME, CT).
It is not known how these cats became infected with the virus. Testing among the dogs in the shelters has been negative, suggesting they are not susceptible. Because this virus is being recognized in cats for the first time, there is minimal information about the clinical course of this virus, duration of shedding, and transmissibility in felines. All of the cats have been symptomatic with a respiratory illness consisting of any of the following signs: lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, and sneezing. Most cats had mild illness though some had moderate illness and one cat with severe pneumonia was humanely euthanized. At this time, there is no evidence that H7N2 is circulating in pets outside of the shelters.
Stringent adherence to infection control is the best way to prevent transmission of influenza viruses. If you have rescue or shelter clients with questions, guidance on the development of an infection control plan can be found online with The National Association of Public Health Veterinarians Model Infection Control Program at http://nasphv.org/documentsCompendia.html. Guidance on managing canine influenza can be applied, and can be found on the AVMA website athttps://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx.
You can find more complete information and ongoing situational updates at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluincats/index.htm.