Pets unlikely to spread COVID-19 to humans
After two cases of COVID-19 were reported in domestic cats earlier this year, an investigation led by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, found no evidence of additional transmission to humans, according to an MMWR report.
“This evidence supports findings to date that animals do not play a substantial role in spreading SARS-CoV-2, although human-to-animal transmission can occur in some situations,” Alexandra Newman, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, co-director of the Regional Epidemiology and Investigations Program of the New York State Department of Health, and colleagues wrote.
The cats — which were the first companion animals with SARS-CoV-2 infection identified in the United States — were from two different counties in New York.
Both cats experienced symptoms of a respiratory illness and had conjunctival, nasal, deep oral and fecal samples taken and sent to the same laboratory to be assessed with a routine feline respiratory polymerase chain reaction panel. According to the report, the laboratory also tested the samples for SARS-CoV-2 as part of a passive surveillance program in pets.
Currently, the CDC and USDA recommend testing in animals who show clinical signs of SARS-CoV-2 infection and are linked to a person with suspected or confirmed infection or an environment associated with high risk for infection, as well as threatened or endangered animals that may have been exposed to an infected person or animals in a group or mass care setting where many show signs of SARS-CoV-2 illness.
After being notified of the cats’ presumptive positive test results on April 14, an epidemiological investigation was launched. The investigators found that the cats were both from households with at least one person who had shown signs of a respiratory infection before their cat became ill.
The owner of one cat reported experiencing more severe symptoms, which prompted investigators to test this person for the virus. The test showed that the owner was positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
No humans or other animals in the households developed an illness after the cats became ill, according to the investigators.
Both cats recovered before the investigation began, so recommendations for additional monitoring and preventive measures were not made.
Researchers wrote that the findings suggest that “companion animals that test positive for SARS-CoV-2 should be monitored and separated from persons and other animals until they recover.”