NEW YORK – An outbreak of flu in 13 cats at an uptown Manhattan animal shelter currently has veterinary experts across the country scratching their heads — because cats simply don’t catch the flu.
“That’s the main question. Where is this flu coming from?” states Dr. Sandra Newbury, director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin.
“This is something new,” she went on to say.
Manhattan’s unlucky 13 cats got sick late last month at the Animal Care Center shelter on East 110th Street — with what is evidently a totally new strain of feline influenza A.
Canine influenza is quite common, and just last year, a few cats at a Chicago shelter caught the canine flu during an outbreak that hit all the resident dogs.
However, no other cat has ever been diagnosed with the flu, Newbury stated, and the Manhattan outbreak appears to be something entirely new.
Fortunately, it’s on the mild side.
Of the 13 Manhattan flu-ish cats over at ACC, one developed pneumonia and died. The other 12 are recovering in isolation at the shelter, and are suffering the same exact flu symptoms that human and dogs get — runny noses, congestion, and what is being called “general malaise.”
Furthermore, genetic material from cheek swabs of the Manhattan 13 are currently being sequenced over at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Madison, Newbury said.
“Once we do all the testing, we may find it came from a dog, or swine, and mutated,” she stated.
“It’s possible that they caught it from us,” she concluded.
We here at The Best Cat Page will continue to follow this developing story.