Cats and dogs are both susceptible to coronavirus – but cats are worse

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An analysis of the viral genetic sequences of two dogs infected with SARS-CoV-2 shows that they probably got the infection from their owners, according to an article published in Nature. Researchers studied dogs and members of infected households in Hong Kong and found that the viral genetic sequences in dogs were identical to those in infected people.

According to research, two out of fifteen dogs from households with confirmed human cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong have been infected. Researchers detected the virus in a 17-year-old castrated male Pomeranian from five nasal swabs taken over a 13-day period. The second dog, a 2.5-year-old German Shepherd dog, also tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The viral genetic sequences of the viruses in the two dogs were identical to the virus detected in the respective human cases”, according to the researchers indicated in the document. “The evidence suggests that these are cases of human-to-animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2. “

Interestingly, the two dogs remained asymptomatic during their quarantines. The study lacks evidence to suggest that dogs can spread the infection to other dogs or other people. However, Malik Peiris, virologist at the University of Hong Kong who led the study, tell nature “We have to keep an open mind. “

The results confirm the results of an April study in which researchers in China deliberately infected dogs with the coronavirus. In this study, the researchers inoculated dogs with the coronavirus. Later, they detected viral RNA in the feces of inoculated dogs; curiously, the virus has not been detected in the body tissues of dogs.

A separate study, in which domestic cats have been inoculated with the virus, has shown that cats can be more sensitive to the coronavirus. According to a letter to the editor published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers placed cats with a coronavirus negative with those who were inoculated with the virus. Some cats have contracted the virus within a few days.

“Two days later (day 3), one of the cats with no previous infection had an infectious virus detected in a nasal swab sample, and 5 days later, the virus was detected in the three cats that were housed with inoculated cats, “the researchers explained. “With reports of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to domestic cats and tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo, coupled with our data showing ease of transmission between domestic cats, there is a public health need to recognize and further investigate the potential chain of human-cat-to-human transmission. ”

The researchers added, “This is particularly important given the potential for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between family members in households with cats while living under the orders of an” on-site shelter “. “

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to warn that it is very unlikely that pets are carriers and can transmit to humans.

“We are still learning about this virus, but we know it is zoonotic and it seems that it can spread from humans to animals in certain situations,” said the CDC. States. “In the United States, there is no evidence that animals play an important role in the spread of COVID-19. “

The American Veterinary Medical Association advises humans infected with COVID-19 to limit contact with their pets when sick, as they would do with people.

“If you need to take care of your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after interacting with them”, The American Veterinary Medical Association States on his website.

Jürgen Richt, a veterinary virologist at Kansas State University in Manhattan, said Nature there is a danger of seeing this information as pets are carriers of the virus and can transmit it to humans, which is very unlikely.

“The danger we face is that people get nervous when they hear that pets can carry the virus and decide to get rid of it,” said Richt.

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