Animal experts are learning that cats and ferrets may be more prone to low-level infections than dogs, and pet owners are warned to be on guard.
Cats and ferrets are among the animals at highest risk of contracting coronavirus, veterinarians warn.
Although the risks are lower in animals, experts are learning that cats and ferrets may be more prone to infection than dogs, and there may be a test for pet owners.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is warning pet owners to keep their animals indoors if they have been exposed to Covid-19 during the coronavirus outbreak.
The news of the risks to cats caused the BVA website to temporarily crash as cat owners began to worry about the lives of their pets.
Clarifying their position, BVA vets say cats from homes infected with coronavirus or where their owners isolate themselves should be kept indoors.
A spokesperson said: “We are not reporting that all cats are kept indoors.
“Only cats from infected homes or where their owners isolate themselves, and only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons. ”
Scientists in China have conducted laboratory results that provide evidence of infected cats transmitting the virus to other cats.
Recent cases include a large tiger cat at a Bronx zoo and a cat in Belgium that tested positive last month. How many ferrets have been infected is not known, but they are also cited among the highest-risk animals.
“It is interesting to note in the experimental evidence that cats can become infected, along with the apparent infection of a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York,” said Professor Bryan Charleston, director of the UK Pirbright Institute specializing in the study of infectious diseases.
Now, a leading animal diagnostic laboratory is trying to implement a coronavirus test so that pet owners have peace of mind.
The company hopes to manufacture its IDEXX COVID-19 test, to make it available to veterinarians and their patients.
Dr. Chris Kremer, veterinarian of IDEXX’s Commercial Animal Companion Business, said: “As part of our research, we have reviewed more than 5,000 samples sent to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for respiratory testing of sick cats and dogs in 17 different countries. . To date, IDEXX has seen no positive results in pets for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for the respiratory outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in humans.
“This information along with isolated reports of two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong, a cat in Belgium, and now a tiger in a New York zoo showing positive results for SARS-CoV-2 testing indicates that there may be varying levels. of susceptibility requiring further investigation.
“As research continues on the positive results of positive tests on pets, we are learning that cats and ferrets may be more susceptible to low-level infections than dogs.”
“With this body of evidence gathered, top veterinary and public experts continue to reassure pet owners that there is a low probability of pet infection and even less chance that our pets will serve as a source of infection.”
“In symptomatic patients, the disease is more likely to be caused by more common infections than COVID-19.
“We learn more every day, and if we consider it clinically important to market our IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR test, we will make it available to veterinarians and their patients.”
In the meantime, the advice is to keep pets safe at home and not leave them behind, because there is no evidence to suggest they can transmit the virus.