Are cats silent coronavirus carriers?
According to a recent study, cats can easily become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. However, the animals show no signs of COVID-19 disease. They may also be able to spread the virus to other cats.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine showed in laboratory tests that cats can easily become infected with the novel virus SARS-CoV-2. The virus also appears to be spreading among cats. The research results were recently presented in the renowned “New England Journal of Medicine”.
Cats can become infected with SARS-CoV-2
In the laboratory, the researchers infected three cats with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The virus was previously isolated from a human patient. Then they put an infected animal with a non-infected animal in a cage. After one day, the team detected the coronavirus in the nasal passages in two of the previously uninfected animals. The virus was found in all cats three days later. All cats lost the virus within six days. No virus was found in rectal smears.
“It was an important finding for us – the cats had no symptoms,” explains research director Yoshihiro Kawaoka. The results indicate that cats are able to become infected with the virus if they encounter sick people or infected cats. The study therefore supports research that was recently presented in the renowned journal Science. It was also suggested there that cats and ferrets could become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and possibly pass on the virus.
Avoid contact with cats in COVID-19 diseases
“This is something that people should keep an eye on,” added Peter Halfmann from the study team. Cats may play a role in quarantines in the home. The researchers advise avoiding contact with the animals if cat owners show COVID-19 symptoms. In addition, the cats should not leave the house as long as the owner is in quarantine.
Can cats infect people?
However, there is currently no evidence or documented case in which the virus was transmitted from cats to humans, the researchers emphasize. Humans remain the greatest risk of infection for other people. “Cats are much more likely to get COVID-19 from you than from a cat,” added Keith Poulsen, director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
The animal specialist considers it harmless to pet or play with the cats. Anyone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 should, however, restrict the interactions with the pet. He also advises cat owners to always have a two-week supply of food and possibly medication for the animals in the house. (vb)
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- University of Wisconsin: Study confirms cats can become infected with and may transmit COVID-19 to other cats (published: 13.05.2020), news.wisc.edu
- Peter J. Halfmann, Masato Hatta, Shiho Chiba, u.a .: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats; in: New England Journal of Medicine, 2020, nejm.org
- Jianzhong Shi ,, Zhiyuan Wen, Gongxun Zhong, et al .: Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS – coronavirus 2; in: Science, 2020, science.sciencemag.org
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.