Covid: Pets potentially act as ‘viral reservoir’ encouraging transmission of disease

This Morning: Supervet discusses having Covid twice

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The UK vaccination strategy has been a success, with more than 33 million people having had the first dose of a Covid vaccine. Yet, pets could act as potential “viral reservoir”, enabling the virus to survive. The Veterinary Record journal consists of an interesting study conducted by the University of Glasgow. Professor Margaret Hosie, from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, voiced her concerns.

“Currently, animal-to-human transmission represents a relatively low risk to public health in areas where human-to-human transmission remains high.

“However as human cases decrease, the prospect of transmission among animals becomes increasingly important as a potential source of SARS-CoV-2 reintroduction to humans.”

In partnership with the Veterinary Diagnostic Service (VDS) at the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Professor Hosie conducted her research.

The data uncovered two cases of human-to-cat transmission of Covid.

The felines were from different households; one was a Ragdoll kitten, and the other was a Siamese cat.

Both cats were thought to have been infected with Covid from their owners.

The four-month-old Ragdoll kitten had an owner who developed Covid symptoms at the end of March 2020.

However, the owner’s Covid infection wasn’t confirmed via a test.

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The kitten was taken to a vet with breathing difficulties in April 2020.

Sadly, its health deteriorated so much that the kitten had to be humanely put down.

Post-mortem lung samples revealed damage consistent with viral pneumonia.

In addition, there was evidence of a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection.

Meanwhile, the six-year-old Siamese cat came from a household where the owner had tested positive for Covid.

The cat was taken to the vet with nasal discharge and conjunctivitis.

Thankfully, the cat’s symptoms remained mild and it made a full recovery.

In a retrospective survey of swabs submitted to VDS, it was confirmed this Siamese cat tested positive for Covid.

Scientist believe the two cases are likely to be under-representative of the true picture.

This is because animal Covid testing is limited, suggesting many more pets have caught the viral infection.

It’s currently not known whether cats could naturally transmit the virus to other animals, or back to humans.

However, Professor Hosie believes this is well worth investigating.

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