Avian Influenza A(H7N2) Virus in Human Exposed to Sick Cats, New York, USA, 2016

Atanaska Marinova-Petkova; Jen Laplante; Yunho Jang; Brian Lynch; Natosha Zanders; Marisela Rodriguez; Joyce Jones; Sharmi Thor; Erin Hodges; Juan A. De La Cruz; Jessica Belser; Hua Yang; Paul Carney; Bo Shu; LaShondra Berman; Thomas Stark; John Barnes; Fiona Havers; Patrick Yang; Susan C. Trock; Alicia Fry; Larisa Gubareva; Joseph S. Bresee; James Stevens; Demetre Daskalakis; Dakai Liu; Christopher T. Lee; Mia Kim Torchetti; Sandra Newbury; Francine Cigel; Kathy Toohey-Kurth; Kirsten St. George; David E. Wentworth; Stephen Lindstrom; C. Todd Davis


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2017;23(12):2046-2049. 

In This Article


The circulation of an influenza A(H7N2) virus at the animal–human interface, especially among common companion animals such as domestic cats, is of public health concern. Moreover, from an epidemiologic perspective, it is essential to understand the current distribution of LPAI A(H7N2) viruses in both avian and feline hosts. The US Department of Agriculture and state departments of agriculture have conducted routine avian influenza surveillance in live bird markets; 132,000–212,000 tests for avian influenza were performed annually during 2007–2014,[15] but LPAI A(H7N2) viruses were not detected. The acquisition of many genetic changes throughout the genome of the human and cat H7N2 viruses we report, however, suggests onward evolution of the virus since it was last detected in poultry and wild birds. We found that the human virus bound to α-2,6–linked sialic acid receptors, which are more common in mammals, yet retained α-2,3–linked sialic acid binding, indicating that it has dual receptor specificity; this information can be used in pandemic risk assessment of zoonotic viruses. Although human infections with LPAI A(H7N2) viruses have occurred previously, we know of no other reported instances of direct transmission from a cat to a human.