Hundreds of cats in New York quarantined after bird flu outbreak
The virus also infected at least one veterinarian, officials said. It is the first time the H7N2 strain of the virus, commonly found in birds, has infected domestic cats, according to the New York City Health Department.
Symptoms are generally mild, and include sneezing, coughing and runny eyes and noses.
Any New Yorkers who adopted a cat from any of the ACC shelters between November 12 and December 15 should keep a close eye on their cats.
The virus was first detected last month in 45 cats housed at a Manhattan shelter run by Animal Care Center of NYC, and later turned up in cats at shelters in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
It was not immediately clear how the cats contracted the virus or how it spread so quickly, the city's health department said.
"We continue to urge New Yorkers who have adopted cats from ACC shelters to be on alert for symptoms in their pets and take proper precautions," Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said. The risk to human health from H7N2 is low.
H7N2 is a type of avian influenza virus, the bird flu, that can mutate and transfer onto mammals such as cats.
It could infect other mammals as well, including humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC). ■