Health & Fitness

Study Shows Case of Likely Cat-to-Human Virus Spread, but Risk Remains Low

A veterinarian in Thailand seemingly contracted the coronavirus from an contaminated pet cat final yr, researchers concluded in a new study. It’s the first documented case of suspected cat-to-human transmission, though consultants stress that the chance of cats infecting people with the virus stays low total.

One of many cat’s two homeowners, who each had Covid-19, in all probability handed the virus to the cat, which then sneezed within the veterinarian’s face, in line with the paper, which was written by scientists at Thailand’s Prince of Songkla College. Genomic sequencing confirmed that the cat and all three individuals have been contaminated with an an identical model of the virus, which was not widespread within the native inhabitants on the time.

Cats are much more more likely to catch the virus from individuals than to transmit it to them, scientists say. However the case is a reminder that people who find themselves contaminated with the virus ought to take precautions round their pets — and that veterinarians and shelter employees who might come into contact with contaminated animals ought to do the identical, mentioned Dr. Scott Weese, an infectious ailments veterinarian on the College of Guelph in Ontario.

“When issues grow to be human ailments, we too usually overlook every part else,” he mentioned. “I feel it’s essential for us to acknowledge this virus nonetheless can transfer between species.”

Earlier analysis has proven that pet homeowners can infect their cats and that, in sure situations, cats can transmit the virus to one another. Nevertheless it has been tough to show that cat-to-human transmission occurs in pure settings. (Mink, hamsters and deer have been reported to unfold the virus to people.)

The brand new paper appeared this week within the journal Rising Infectious Ailments, which is revealed by the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. It makes a robust case for cat-to-human transmission, Dr. Weese mentioned: “They’ve acquired a fairly good story right here.”

On Aug. 4, a father and son in Bangkok developed signs of Covid-19 and subsequently examined optimistic for the virus. Due to a scarcity of hospital beds in Bangkok, the 2 males have been transported on Aug. 8 to a hospital in Songkhla, a province in southern Thailand, by way of a 20-hour ambulance journey. For causes which might be unclear, they introduced their pet cat.

When the lads have been admitted to the hospital, the cat was despatched to a veterinary hospital for an examination. Though the cat seemed to be wholesome, the veterinarian, a 32-year-old girl, collected nasal and rectal swabs, which examined optimistic for the virus. Whereas the veterinarian was swabbing the cat’s nostril, the animal sneezed in her face. (The veterinarian was carrying gloves and a masks through the examination, however no face protect or eye safety.)

On Aug. 13, the veterinarian developed Covid-19 signs, together with a fever and a cough. Shortly thereafter, she examined optimistic for the virus.

Genomic sequencing revealed that the cat’s homeowners, the cat and the veterinarian have been all contaminated with the identical model of the Delta variant, which was distinct from viral samples taken from different sufferers in Songkhla on the time.

P.C.R. testing means that the cat had a excessive viral load on the time of its veterinary examination. Not one of the veterinarian’s shut contacts are recognized to have had Covid-19 on the time, and he or she had no prior encounters with the pet’s homeowners, including help to the speculation that the cat was the supply of the veterinarian’s an infection. (It was not clear whether or not she met with the homeowners later.)

The C.D.C. recommends that people who find themselves contaminated with the virus avoid contact with their pets. “If you happen to’re making an attempt to avoid individuals since you’re doubtlessly infectious,” Dr. Weese mentioned, “simply attempt to avoid animals on the identical time.”

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