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Researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland have warned that pets could act as a potential reservoir for Covid-19 after they identified two cases where cats are believed to have contracted the virus from their owners, one of which died, underscoring the need for scientists to improve their understanding of whether pets play a role in infecting humans.
The two cats, which were different breeds and from separate households, were found to have Covid-19 as part of a U.K. screening program and are believed to have contracted the virus from their owners.
One cat displayed mild symptoms before recovering but the other, a four-month-old Ragdoll, developed breathing difficulties and was euthanized, the scientists wrote in the study published in the Veterinary Record.
There is currently no evidence that cats or other domestic animals can transmit the virus to humans or play a significant role in spreading the disease among humans, the scientists wrote.
However, the scientists said domestic animals could possibly act as a “viral reservoir” and lead author Professor Margaret Hosie said it will be “important to monitor” different modes of transmission to better understand the risks.
Professor James Wood, who leads the University of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine, said the findings of the “high-quality study” add to the “body of evidence that humans can infect their pets.” Wood said infected owners should follow advice, where possible, to “try to separate themselves from their animals when they are clinically unwell.”
Russia registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine for animals in March. While pets are the first thought for many, it is in agriculture this vaccine will be most welcome
There have been a number of cats that have tested positive for Covid-19 around the world, including the U.S., Hong Kong and France. Presumably, the felines were infected by their owners. Other animals—including mink, dogs, gorillas and tigers—have also been known to be infected with the virus. The CDC advises owners to treat pets “as you would other human family members” during the pandemic, not letting them interact with people from outside the household and including them in isolation measures should somebody in the household be sick. If you must care for a pet while sick, the agency recommends wearing a mask and careful handwashing. Masks should not be put on pets, the agency warns, as this could harm them.
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