Human to Cat Transmission of COVID-19?

The current COVID-19 research has shown that SARS-CoV-2 infections can be transmitted from humans to domestic and non-domestic cats, dogs, and mink while other animals like the ducks, pigs, and chickens are not susceptible to the virus. The establishment of new animal reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2 could pose serious problems for human health in the future.

Currently, there’s no evidence of cat-to-human transmission or if the dogs, cats, or other pets play any significant role in the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in humans. Even though it is clear that the current pandemic is driven by human-to-human transmission, it is necessary to determine if domestic animals can get infected and if they pose any risk to humans or serve as a viral reservoir, especially those with comorbidities who are more likely to progress to severe disease.

In a study, a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow researched two domestic cats from households with positive COVID-19 cases and with mild to severe symptoms. The lung tissue of cat 1 collected post-mortem showed pathological and histological findings consistent with viral pneumonia and also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and antigens. An oropharyngeal swab from cat 2 had viral RNA, and the cat showed signs of rhinitis and conjunctivitis.

The findings of the team confirmed that human-to-cat SARS-CoV-2 transmission is possible and can cause signs of respiratory disease in cats. Although we currently do not have evidence to show that domestic cats have any role in the epidemiology of the COVID-19, a better understanding of human-to-cat transmission mechanisms is possible only by monitoring cats in COVID-19-infected households.

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