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Covid, dogs and cats take it from their owners: the cats most at risk

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Dogs and cats can get sick with Covid-19, a “common” infection in pets whose owners have been infected with the coronavirus. compared to dogs, both biologically and for the more ‘intimate’ contacts they have with humans. The habit that makes them more vulnerable is to sleep in the owner’s bed, ‘face to face’ as often happens to those who live with a cat. Some studies that will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (Eccmid), scheduled online from 9 to 12 July, investigate Covid and pet. One was conducted by Dorothee Bienzle’s group of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, involving 48 cats and 54 dogs from 77 families with former Covid patients. The animals were tested for antibodies to Sars-CoV-2, a sign of an outdated infection, and the same test was done on 75 dogs and cats admitted to an animal shelter, and on 75 stray cats visited in a clinic. low-cost. 67% of the cats and 43% of the dogs living in the household tested positive for antibodies, compared with 9% of the animals in the shelter and 3% of the homeless cats. Data that, together with those produced by previous genetic investigations, according to the scientists indicate that “the most likely route of transmission of Sars-CoV-2 is from humans to pets, rather than vice versa”. owners also found that 20% of dogs had Covid symptoms, mainly lack of energy and loss of appetite; some had coughed or diarrhea, but all reported manifestations were mild and resolved quickly. Previous symptoms also for 27% of cats: runny nose and difficulty in breathing the most common, signs that in 3 cases had presented themselves in a serious way. The amount of time the pets spent with their owner and the type of contact they had did not influence the risk of infection, the authors explain. However, specifying that cats who stayed for prolonged periods in contact with owners seemed to be in greater danger, and those who slept in the owner’s bed were more likely to get infected. former Covid patients, is signed by the Els Broens team of the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. A mobile veterinary clinic visited the homes of pet owners who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the previous 2 to 200 days. A total of 156 dogs and 154 cats in 196 families underwent swabs and antibody tests. 4.2% of the animals tested positive for swab and 17.4% for antibodies. Eleven of the 13 owners whose pets had positive swabs accepted a second round of testing one to 3 weeks after the first. All 11 tested positive for antibodies, confirming infection. Three cats still had the positive swab and were tested for the third time, but in the end the animals that had become infected all became negative. Even 8 dogs and cats living with ‘companions’ tested positive for swabs were tested again in this second phase of the project, to verify the transmission of the virus between pets: none tested positive, proving that “Sars-CoV-2 – point out the authors – it is not transmitted between pets that lived in close contact with each other. “Considering that over a fifth (20.4%) of the families studied had coronavirus antibody-positive pets, the scientists conclude that “Covid-19 is very common in pets of people who have had the disease.” And since “other studies also show that Covid rates are higher in pets that have been in contact with infected people, compared to animals that have not had this contact, the most likely route of transmission is from human to animal and not. the other way around”. Broens recommends: “If you have Covid-19, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just like you would with other people.” Not so much for the health of the pet, which risks little, but rather for “the potential danger – warns the scientist – that pets can act as reservoirs for the virus and reintroduce it into the human population”.

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