By Brooke Taylor | Editor of CTVNews.ca
TORONTO, Ontario (CTV Network) – The new coronavirus has been well documented in cats large and small across the world, and now a UK study is showing evidence of human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in two cases.
The two cats came from different households and suffered from different severities of the disease. Both cats had owners who developed COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, while testing in humans was less consistent.
The study, published in Veterinary Record, a peer-reviewed veterinary medical journal, analyzed swabs taken from cats for routine testing on common viruses in cats, including the feline herpes virus. Through testing, they were able to identify two cats carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and after testing the genomes, they found that it was strikingly similar to the circulation of the virus in humans.
Newsletter Sign-Up: Get COVID-19 Dossier Sent to Your Inbox The owners of both cats had exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 before their cats fell ill, according to the study.
One of the cats with SARS-CoV-2 was a 4 month old ragdoll kitten. He presented with severe respiratory illness and ultimately had to be euthanized. The second cat was a 6 year old Siamese cat who presented with pink eyes and nasal congestion. His symptoms remained mild and he recovered later.
The study pointed out that there was no evidence of cat-to-human transmission and that dogs, cats and pets do not play a role in COVID-19 infections in humans . However, the researchers say more studies need to be done to confirm that pets cannot pass the virus from animal to animal or return it to humans.
“Currently, animal-to-human transmission represents a relatively low risk to public health in areas where human-to-human transmission remains high. However, as human cases decrease, the prospect of transmission between animals becomes increasingly important as a potential source of reintroduction of SARS-CoV-2 into humans, ”Professor Margaret Hosie of the Center for Research on Human Health. viruses from the University of Glasgow and lead author of the study, said in a press release.
Prior to this study, there had been reports of domestic cats in several countries testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 after their owners were diagnosed with COVID-19, including two in Montreal. There have also been cases of the virus occurring naturally in cats and dogs.
Lions and tigers in zoos have also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
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