March marks the last official month of the 2017 flu season until October according to the CDC. Humans are not the only animals that can become sick with an influenza virus. Our feline companion animals apparently can as well.
A recent outbreak of flu among thirteen cats at a Manhattan animal shelter has veterinary experts nationwide concerned because cats are not traditionally know to get the flu. “That’s the main question. Where is this flu coming from?” says University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program Director Dr. Sandra Newbury. “This is something new.” The thirteen felines in question got sick at the Animal Care Center (ACC) shelter on East 110th Street with an entirely new strain of feline influenza A.
Canine influenza is common and can be contagious to cats as evidenced by an outbreak last year among some resident dogs at a Chicago shelter in which a few cats caught the canine flu.
One of the thirteen cats at ACC died from pneumonia where as the remaining twelve recovered in isolation. The twelve survivors suffered the same type of flu symptoms typically experienced by people and dogs including runny noses, congestion and general malaise. According to Dr. Newbury, genetic material obtained from cheek swabs of the Manhattan thirteen was sent for sequencing at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Madison. “Once we do all the testing, we may find it came from a dog, or swine, and mutated,” she said. “It’s [also] possible that they caught it from us.”
This article was adapted from a story featured in the New York Post by Laura Italiano titled “Cats catch the flu from new strain of feline influenza.”