Coronavirus and pets ( Cats and DOgs )
Posted: Apr 10, 2020
According to scientists yet evidence are found that virus spread through animals, so the pet owner can take a relaxing breath.
Cats may get infected with the corona virus, and can spread it to other cats also, but dogs are not susceptible to the infection, said by researchers at China.
Other scientists say the findings are interesting, but cat owners should not be alarmed just yet. The results are based on lab experiments in which a small number of animals were deliberately given high doses of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and do not represent real-life interactions between people and their pets, says virologist Linda Saif at the Ohio State University in Wooster. There is no direct evidence that the infected cats secreted enough corona virus to pass it on to people, she says.
With the corona virus spreading rapidly around the world, some have raised concerns about whether it can pass between pets and people. So far, there have been a few reports of pets being infected: a cat in Belgium and two dogs in Hong Kong. "Cats and dogs are in close contact with humans, and therefore it is important to understand their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 for COVID-19 control," write the authors of the latest study1, a pre-print posted on bioRxiv on 31 March, which has not been peer-reviewed.
The team, led by virologist Bu Zhigao, introduced samples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into the noses of five domestic cats. When two of the animals were euthanized six days later, the researchers found viral RNA, as well as infectious virus particles, in their upper respiratory tracts.
The other three infected cats were put in cages next to uninfected felines. The team later detected viral RNA in one of these exposed cats, which suggests that it contracted the virus from droplets breathed out by the infected cats. All four of the infected cats also produced antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in cats should be considered as part of efforts to eliminate COVID-19 in humans, the authors note in the pre-print
But Saif says that none of the infected cats showed symptoms of illness and that only one out of the three felines exposed to infected animals caught the virus. "This suggests the virus may not be highly transmissible in cats," she says. Furthermore, the mode of transmission is unclear because the study does not describe how the cages were set up, and the uninfected cats could have contracted the virus from contaminated faces or urine.
The authors of the latest pre-print also found that ferrets are highly susceptible to infection with the COVID-19 corona virus, which they suggest makes the animals a suitable model for testing potential vaccines and drugs. Ferrets are already used as models in influenza studies, and several labs have started COVID-19 research on them.
Dogs, however, were less susceptible to the virus. The researchers inoculated five young dogs with SARS-CoV-2 and found that two excreted viral RNA in their faces, but none contained an infectious virus.
Similar investigations in pigs, chickens and ducks identified no viral RNA in animals deliberately inoculated with the virus, or in those exposed to the inoculated animals.
These findings suggest that none of these species plays a part in the epidemiology of COVID-19, says Pfeiffer
At this difficult time take care of pets, friends, family and self.
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