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Study reveals Cats are also susceptible to COVID-19
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Study reveals Cats are also susceptible to COVID-19

Beware pets! A study reveals that cats are susceptible to COVID-19, and are reported to be highly contagious. 

New reports reveal that cats, just like humans are also susceptible to the highly contagious novel virus- COVID-19. Two studies conducted in Japan and the US published their reports in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report highlights that cats are easily infected by COVID-19 and its also possible to pass on the virus to other cats. 

The study on COVID-19:

A study led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka and team from University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine administered human isolated COVID-19 virus in three cats. The following day, the team conducted tests using nasal swabs from infected cats. The virus was detected in 2 out of 3 cats, and 3 days later all the infected cats tested positive to COVID-19.

Once the cats tested positive, another cat was placed in each of their cages. The researchers did not infect these cats, specifically study if the virus was contagious among cats. Each day, researchers took nasal swabs from all six cats to check the presence of the virus. It was noticed that the infected cats started shedding the virus and within a week all 6 cats showed symptoms and started shedding the virus. 

It should also be highlighted that none of the rectal swabs contained the virus. similar to humans cats also shed the virus through the nasal passage. The cats did not portray any symptoms, and the virus was not found to be lethal.

“That was a major finding for us — the cats did not have symptoms,” says Kawaoka, who also holds a faculty appointment at the University of Tokyo. 

Can humans infect cats with COVID-19?

The findings from the lab also suggest that there is a high possibility of humans affecting their own cats. This can be supported by a study conducted at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, where it was noticed that cats or ferrets can potentially be infected by humans through saliva or respiratory droplets. 

“It’s something for people to keep in mind,” says Peter Halfmann, a research professor at UW–Madison who helped lead the study. “If they are quarantined in their house and are worried about passing COVID-19 to children and spouses, they should also worry about giving it to their animals.”

Both the leading researchers of the study recommend patients tested COVID positive should keep distance and avoid contact with their cats. They further warned the cat owners to keep their pets indoors, avoiding contact with other cats to limit the possibility of infection. 

Humans still remain the biggest risk to infect other humans. There is no documented study to prove that cats can infect humans. There are however reported cases of humans infecting cats. For instance, according to the US Department of Agriculture, two cats in a private home tested positive for COVID-19. One of the infected cats was exposed to the virus through its caregiver who tested COVID positive. The cats showed mild symptoms and are reported to make full recovery.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends animal owners to include their pets in their COVID-19  protective planning, and advise them to keep a two week supply of food in handy for the pets in case of emergency. Additional planning should be made for quarantine and medical check-ups in case of pets being infected. 

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