In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists from Japan and the United States report that in the laboratory, cats can easily become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and may be able to spread the virus to other cats.
The researchers gave three cats the virus isolated from a human. The next day, researchers took a sample from the cats’ nasal passages and were able to detect the virus in two of the animals. Within three days, they detected the virus in all of them. Within six days, all the cats were shedding the virus. The virus was not lethal and none of the cats showed any signs of illness. All the cats finally cleared SARS-CoV-2. “That was an important discovery for us… the cats had no symptoms,” explains Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, USA.
The authors of the new study reiterate that people with symptoms of Covid-19 should avoid contact with cats. They also advise cat owners to keep these pets indoors to limit contact with other animals and people. “It’s something people need to be aware of,” says Peter Halfmann, a research professor at UW-Madison and co-director of the new study. “If they are quarantined in their home and are concerned about infecting their children and spouses with Covid-19, they should also be concerned about protecting their animals.
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What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause disease in both animals and humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections that can range from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes Covid-19 coronavirus disease.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the most recently discovered infectious disease caused by the coronavirus. Both this new virus and the disease it causes were unknown before the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries around the world.
Can I catch COVID 19 from my pet?
Several dogs and cats (domestic cats and a tiger) in contact with infected humans have tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, ferrets appear to be susceptible to infection. Under experimental conditions, both cats and ferrets were able to transmit the infection to other animals of the same species, but there is no evidence that these animals can transmit the disease to humans and play a role in the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is spread mainly through droplets produced by an infected person when coughing, sneezing, or talking.
However, it is recommended that those with Covid-19 and people at risk limit contact with their pets and other animals. Basic hygiene measures should always be taken when touching and caring for animals. This includes washing hands after touching animals, their food, or objects, as well as avoiding kissing, licking, or sharing food.
So, what should pet owners do?
If your pet lives with you indoors and has not contacted anyone who has tested positive for COVID 19, it is safe to pet and interact with your pet. If you have tested positive for COVID 19, it is not safe to interact with your pet to protect them from exposure to the virus .
Information obtained from the World Health Organization.