First there have been sneezing hamsters, now sneezing cats. A workforce in Thailand reviews the primary strong proof of a pet cat infecting an individual with SARS-CoV-2 — including felines to the listing of animals that may transmit the virus to individuals.
Researchers say the outcomes are convincing. They’re shocked that it has taken this lengthy to ascertain that transmission can happen, given the size of the pandemic, the virus’s potential to leap between animal species, and the shut contact between cats and folks. “We’ve recognized this was a risk for 2 years,” says Angela Bosco-Lauth, an infectious-disease researcher at Colorado State College in Fort Collins.
Research early within the pandemic discovered that cats shed infectious virus particles and might infect different cats. And over the course of the pandemic, nations have reported SARS-CoV-2 infections in dozens of pet cats. However establishing the course of viral unfold — from cat to particular person or from particular person to cat — is difficult. The Thai research “is an fascinating case report, and a fantastic instance of what good contact tracing can do”, says Marion Koopmans, a virologist on the Erasmus College Medical Heart in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The feline discovering, revealed in Rising Infectious Ailments on 6 June, took place by chance, says co-author Sarunyou Chusri, an infectious-disease researcher and doctor at Prince of Songkla College in Hat Yai, southern Thailand. In August, a father and son who had examined constructive for SARS-CoV-2 have been transferred to an isolation ward on the college’s hospital. Their ten-year-old cat was additionally swabbed and examined constructive. Whereas being swabbed, the cat sneezed within the face of a veterinary surgeon, who was carrying a masks and gloves however no eye safety.
Three days later, the vet developed a fever, sniffles and a cough, and later examined constructive for SARS-CoV-2, however none of her shut contacts developed COVID-19, suggesting that she had been contaminated by the cat. Genetic evaluation additionally confirmed that the vet was contaminated with the identical variant because the cat and its house owners, and the viral genomic sequences have been an identical.
Researchers say that such instances of cat-to-human transmission are in all probability uncommon. Experimental research have proven that contaminated cats don’t shed a lot virus, and shed for only some days, says Leo Poon, a virologist on the College of Hong Kong.
Nonetheless, Chusri says it’s price taking additional precautions when dealing with cats suspected of being contaminated. Individuals “shouldn’t abandon their cats, however take extra care of them,” he says.
Different animals suspected of infecting individuals embrace farmed mink in Europe and North America, pet hamsters in Hong Kong and wild white-tailed deer in Canada. Including cats to the listing “expands our understanding of the zoonotic potential of this virus”, says Poon.
However researchers say these are all uncommon occasions and animals don’t but play a major half in spreading the virus. “People are clearly nonetheless the foremost supply of the virus,” says Bosco-Lauth.
This text is reproduced with permission and was first revealed on June 29 2022.