Cats can get coronavirus, but experts say there is nothing to worry about
¿Can cats get Coronavirus?
(CNN) – A recent study in China , so crude that it has yet to be reviewed by third parties, has some disturbing news for cat lovers. Our furry feline friends appear to be susceptible to covid-19 , the disease caused by the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Worse yet, the cats in the study were able to infect each other, although they showed no signs of disease.
Ferrets were also able to contract the virus, although it did not appear to harm them. The dogs, on the other hand, were not susceptible, according to the study. The virus appeared in the feces of five dogs, but no infectious virus was found. Pigs, chickens, and ducks were also not very hospitable to the virus.
But there is no need for cat lovers or ferrets to panic, experts say. There is no evidence that your pets can become seriously ill or die from the new coronavirus.
“Yes, people should hug their pets. These researchers flushed the virus out of the cat’s nose in high concentration, which is quite artificial, ”said Dr. John Williams, chief of the pediatric infectious disease division at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
No realistic exposure
The lab experiment used a scenario that is completely unrealistic, experts say. First, the researchers forced extremely high doses of the virus into the nostrils of five 8-month-old domesticated cats.
Cats in our homes or even in the wild would never be exposed to that level of virus.
“That’s much more than an average human would get,” said infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
“So this is an artificial circumstance and we don’t know if it happens in nature,” added Schaffner.
Two of the five cats were euthanized six days later. The researchers found virus particles in their upper respiratory systems.
The remaining three infected cats were placed in a cage adjacent to three uninfected cats. Later, one of those three cats tested positive for the virus, while the other two did not. Still, the researchers considered that the virus could be transmitted through respiratory drops.
Or did he? None of the infected cats showed signs of disease and even if they transmitted the virus to each other, that doesn’t mean they could transmit it to humans.
That’s what happened almost two decades ago with a sister coronavirus called SARS-CoV, which causes the deadly pneumonia-like respiratory disease called SARS .
Just like now, science found that cats could become infected with SARS-CoV and infect other cats. But the virus was not widely spread among domestic cats during the pandemic from 2002 to 2004, nor were there any known cases of transmission to humans.
It also affects ferrets
The study found that ferrets were also “efficient” replicators of the virus, meaning that the virus can easily grow and reproduce in their long and slippery bodies.
“SARS-CoV-2 can replicate in ferrets’ upper respiratory tract for up to eight days, without causing serious illness or death,” the study said. The investigation did not consider a longer time frame.
That’s good news for researchers looking for a way to test any future SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, also called a new coronavirus.
“You need to have an animal model to do initial vaccine testing and understand how viruses cause disease. So this will be useful for the field, ”Williams explained.
It is not really surprising that ferrets appear to respond to the new coronavirus. A ferret’s lung and airways are strikingly similar to that of a human. In fact, ferrets biologically and physiologically are more similar to humans than to a mouse or rat.
“Ferrets are classic animals in which the flu is studied; it’s been done for decades, ”Schaffner said. “If scientists were looking for an animal model, they would look for ferrets first.”
What this means
Will your cat or ferret get sick with coronavirus? According to experts, it is highly unlikely that they would point to the fact that we would surely have already heard of many cases in pets, considering the significant spread of the virus in the United States and Europe .
Hong Kong quarantined animals belonging to people diagnosed with covid-19 and has only found two cases of positive results in dogs. The dogs showed no signs of disease during quarantine.
Oddly enough, it appears that a cat in Belgium may have contracted the virus in March from its owner, who was ill with covid-19 after returning from a visit to Italy. But even though the cat had respiratory problems and high levels of the virus in vomit and feces, researchers are still not sure if the cat had covid-19 or another disease.
“While two dogs (Hong Kong) and one cat (Belgium) were reported to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, infectious disease experts and multiple international and national human and animal health organizations agree that there is no evidence right now to indicate that pets transmit covid-19 to other animals, including people, ”according to the American Association for Veterinary Medicine (AVMA) on its website.
AVMA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention They recommend taking normal precautions when cleaning litter boxes and feeding animals.
“As a precaution,” the AVMA suggests that anyone sick with coviod-19 symptoms limit contact at this time, “until more information about the virus is known.”
“Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding and playing with your pet,” says AVMA. “If you have a service animal or must take care of your pet, use a face mask; don’t share food, don’t kiss or hug him, and wash your hands before and after any contact with them. ”