What do we know about COVID-19 and pets?

What do we know about COVID-19 and pets?

A new study has discovered that cats can catch coronavirus, leading the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take a closer look into the potential for transmission of the virus between owners and pets.

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the USA or a tiger anywhere, federal officials and the zoo said on April 5.

The scientists, however, found that other animals such as dogs, chickens, pigs, and ducks are not likely to catch the virus.

According to the researchers, the study was meant to determine which animals were most vulnerable to the coronavirus to determine which species would aid in the development of experimental vaccines to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to The Hindu Dr. Decaestecker said that PCR testing conducted in these cases only concludes that virus material is present - a case of passive contamination - but that does not necessarily imply an ongoing infection in the animal that could be further transmitted.

A new study published on Wednesday suggests that ferrets can serve as candidate animal model for evaluating antiviral drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.

COVID-19 is believed to have spread from bats to humans. Kittens exposed to the virus had massive lesions in their lungs, nose, and throat. In ferrets, the virus got into their upper respiratory tract but didn't cause serious cases of disease.

In studies of airborne transmission, they found the new coronavirus was poorly transmissible in ferrets, but it transmitted via air in cats, particularly in juvenile cats, according to Science.

"It's both interesting and not terribly surprising in the sense that with the original SARS epidemic, civet cats were implicated as one of the vectors that may have transmitted virus to humans", he said.

"We don't believe that they are playing a role in transmission, but we think that they may be able to be infected from an infected person", she said.

Moreover, WHO's top emergency expert Mike Ryan is asking people not to retaliate against the animals. "They're beings in their own right and they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect". If a new, concerning illness is observed that can not be otherwise explained, and the companion animal has had close and prolonged contact with a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection, the veterinarian should contact the state public health veterinarian or designated health official to discuss whether or not there is a need to test that animal for COVID-19.

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