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'Sacrifices like us': pets may become infected with coronavirus

According to a new study, cats can become infected with a new coronavirus, but dogs are not likely to be vulnerable. This prompted WHO to study more closely the transmission of the virus between humans and domestic animals. Writes about this Reuters.

Photo: Shutterstock

A study published on Science magazine's website showed that ferrets can also become infected with SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Dogs, chickens, pigs, and ducks are unlikely to get the virus, but more research is needed.

The goal of this study is to determine which animals are vulnerable to the virus so that they can be used to test experimental vaccines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease has killed more than 90 people worldwide since it first appeared in China in December 000.

SARS-CoV-2 is believed to spread from bats to humans. With the exception of a few reported infections in cats and dogs, there was no convincing evidence that pets could be carriers.

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York, which had a dry cough and lost appetite after contact with an infected person, showed a positive coronavirus test on Sunday, April 5.

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A study based on analyzes conducted in China in January and February showed that cats and ferrets are very susceptible to the virus when researchers tried to infect animals by injecting viral particles through their nose.

They also found that cats can infect each other through respiratory droplets. In infected cats, the virus was in the mouth, nose, and small intestine. The kittens exposed to the virus had massive lesions in the lungs, nose and throat.

“Observing SARS-CoV-2 in cats should be seen as complementary to eliminating COVID-19 in humans,” the authors write.

In ferrets, the virus was found in the upper respiratory tract, but did not cause serious illness.

Antibody tests showed that dogs were less likely to become infected with the virus, while no strain of the virus was found in inoculated pigs, chickens or ducks.

“It's both interesting and not very surprising in the sense that with the initial SARS epidemic, cats were implicated as one of the vectors that could transmit the virus to humans,” said Daniel Kuritzkes, head of infectious diseases at Boston Hospital.

“These data support the recommendation that people with COVID-19 should distance themselves not only from other family members, but also from pets, so as not to transmit the virus to their pets, especially cats,” he said.

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The World Health Organization said it is working with its partners to more closely examine the role of pets in the health crisis.

Based on available evidence, WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerchove said at a press conference: "We do not believe that animals play a role in the transmission of the virus, but we think that they can become infected by an infected person."

WHO Emergency Situations Expert Mike Ryan asked people not to respond to animals in response to the outbreak.

“They deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. They are the same victims as the rest of us, ”he said.

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