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Article: Cats are 'highly susceptible' to SARS-CoV-2 but still no evidence of risk to humans
Read below an article taken from our Animal Pharm platform dated 03/04/20.
Research by China's Harbin Veterinary Research Institute has determined cats and ferrets are highly susceptible to the virus behind the COVID-19 outbreak.
Scientists carried out the study to investigate the vulnerability of cats, dogs and other domestic animals to SARS-CoV-2. The cats involved in the study were outbred. Results showed the virus replicated efficiently and can be transmitted to naïve cats via respiratory droplets.
Although there is currently no evidence cats or other pets can pass the virus on to humans, the scientists said the latest findings suggest surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in cats should be considered as an adjunct to elimination of COVID-19 in humans.
The study also found dogs have low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, while livestock including pigs, chickens, and ducks are not susceptible to the virus. A paper outlining the results of the research can be found in full here.
Harbin's study follows news of a cat in Belgium allegedly becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2. The animal lived with its owner who was confined in isolation after testing positive for the virus. The cat showed clinical signs (anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and shallow breathing) and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 from successive samples of feces and gastric fluids. The cat recovered nine days after the onset of clinical signs.
Two dogs in Hong Kong have also recently tested positive for the virus after being contaminated by their sick owners.
The first dog was diagnosed as weakly positive on five times from oral and nasal swabs in February and March. Fecal samples were negative. Serum taken from the dog on March 3 finally proved positive.
In a separate case, oral and nasal swabs from the second dog were positive for SARS-CoV2 virus. The dog was sent to quarantine on March 18 with another dog. No other positive result was obtained in the other dog. None of the three dogs showed any signs of disease.
Professor Etienne Thiry is head of veterinary virology and viral diseases laboratory in the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Liège.
Discussing these cases, he stated: "As it stands, the dog or cat can be contaminated by an owner affected by SARS-CoV-2, at a low level that does not allow transmission to other animals or to humans. They are considered to be epidemiological dead ends."
Overall, SARS-CoV-2 in pets presents a grey area between infection and contamination. IDEXX Laboratories has "evaluated thousands of canine and feline samples during the validation of a new veterinary test system for SARS-CoV-2 and seen no positive results". Moreover, Antech Diagnostics previously said its had data shown there was "no evidence that dogs or cats have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, SARS-CoV-2".
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