Cats Must Self-Isolate To Stop Spread Of Coronavirus, Scientists Warn
Cats living with owners who have tested positive for Covid-19 should self-isolate to prevent further spread of the virus, scientists have warned.
While it’s been known for some time that cats are capable of carrying and giving coronavirus to other animals, there’s no data to indicate our pets can transmit the infection to us.
However, experts in the US have urged that cats are highly susceptible to the virus and should self-isolate with their owners if they’ve tested positive, as well as observing social distancing if the pet has to be with another guardian.
As reported by Metro, researchers from Colorado State University warned that ‘infected pet cats should not be allowed to roam freely outdoors to prevent potential risk of spreading infection to other outdoor cats or wildlife’.
While neither species developed clinical disease in this study, cats shed infectious virus for up to five days and infected naive cats via direct contact, while dogs do not appear to shed virus. Thus if symptomatic humans follow appropriate quarantine procedures and stay home with their pets, there is minimal risk of a potentially exposed cat infecting another human.
The university found that while cats and dogs are able to contract coronavirus, their immune systems prevented them from getting unwell, leaving them as carriers to other animals. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, noted that ‘there is currently no evidence that cats or dogs play a significant role in human infection’.
The research continued, ‘Resistance to reinfection holds promise that a vaccine strategy may protect cats and, by extension, humans. Importantly, infected cats shed for no more than five days following exposure, suggesting that cats, if exposed to infected humans, will develop and clear infection rapidly.’
Earlier in July, the UK had its first animal to test positive for coronavirus – also a cat. According to the government news release, ‘all available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had previously tested positive for COVID-19’.
However, Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss explained, ‘This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days. There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans.’
Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, added, ‘In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.’
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CreditsMetro and 2 others
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences