There is still no consensus on this, but some evidence indicates that COVID-19 can be transmitted from people infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to pets, such as dogs and cats. This is what points to cases confirmed by public health officials in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
“We need to talk about our pets,” warns Susan Culp, a member of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) in the USA. “If you have a human being in a house with a positive diagnosis, in addition to isolating yourself from other people, they need to isolate themselves from their pets”, he defends.
In case of a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 in humans, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends preventing these patients from having direct contact with pets, that is, it is not recommended that the person caress, kiss, let it be licked, share the food and don’t even sleep in the same bed. In the case of those who need to take care of the animal, they are advised to use masks and to wash their hands (preferably with soap and water) before and after contact.
That’s because the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), in the USA, issued an alert on the case of a dog was infected by the new coronavirus in the region. The infection was officially confirmed after further tests carried out by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories of the country’s Department of Agriculture. Although this was the first confirmed animal detection in Texas, other cases have been identified worldwide.
This is the case of the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), which, after a round of tests, confirms the positive diagnosis for COVID-19 in a domestic cat. In this specific case, there is no doubt about the infection by the coronavirus, because researchers at the University of Glasgow performed the complete sequencing of the virus genome found in a sample of the infected cat.
On the confirmation of COVID-19, Professor Margaret Hosie, from the Virus Research Center at the University of Glasgow, says: “There have been sporadic reports of cats with COVID-19 in Hong Kong, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and the US that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and found to be infected by its owners, but this is the first report of an infected cat in the UK “.
According to Hosie, “all the available evidence suggests that the cat was infected by its owners, who had previously tested positive. The cat and its owners have now fully recovered and there has been no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the household.”
What to do?
For cases of infection in animals, the American agency clarifies: “A protocol for home isolation applies to all animals with a positive test and that do not require hospitalization. This protocol involves daily monitoring, isolation recommendations, and movement restrictions. “. This means that, from what has been observed, contaminated animals do not require special care, only observation in most cases.
That’s because, according to the CDC, “coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illnesses of the cold type in people, while others cause disease in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine coronavirus and feline, infect only animals and do not infect humans “. Apparently, domestic animals are not or are little affected by COVID-19.
Regarding the risk of contagion of animals contaminated by the new coronavirus, the CDC states three important points: “At the moment, there is no evidence that animals have a significant role in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19; Based on the limited information available so far, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered low; we are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations “.
“Currently, there is no evidence that cats, dogs or other domestic animals have a role in the epidemiology of human SARS-CoV-2 infections. In addition, the significance of SARS-CoV-2 as a feline or canine pathogen is unknown, because cats and dogs with reported infections usually recover and there is no evidence of transmission between cats or dogs in the field, “points out Professor William Weir, of the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine.
“More studies are needed to understand whether and how different animals can be affected by COVID-19”, points out the CDC. At that point, lions and tigers, from a zoo in New York, tested positive for the new coronavirus after showing symptoms of respiratory infection. According to health authorities, the contamination happened after they were exposed to an employee infected with COVID-19. Now, all the cats are fine.
As a rule, for an animal to be tested for the new coronavirus in the United States, other possible causes of the symptoms must have been ruled out first and someone infected has had contact with the animal since that would be the transmitter of the coronavirus.
After the confirmation of COVID-19, the animals are tested and, later, there is the development of antibodies to the virus in the animal organism. The idea is that, in this way, it is possible to better understand how coronavirus infection can affect dogs and cats, in addition to discovering the possible role of pets in the spread of the pandemic.