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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania agriculture officials are warning that a dozen shelter cats may have been exposed to an avian flu virus similar to one that spread through the poultry industry a decade ago.

The state Department of Agriculture says the cats came from New York City shelters and have been put in quarantine in three Chester County shelters.

Officials say the virus is not harmful to humans. But they are reminding people to wash their hands frequently during flu season. Authorities are also reaching out to anyone who brought cats home from the affected shelters to see if they have backyard poultry.

The 2002-2003 outbreak caused millions of dollars in losses to the poultry industry in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

State veterinarian Dr. David Wolfgang says there’s no evidence any poultry flocks have been exposed.

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