July 29, 2021

Pets catch covid from people more often than previously thought

Pets catch covid

According to a study published recently, pets catch covid from people more often than previously thought. Indeed, since the start of the pandemic, many pet owners have wondered whether they can infect their precious companions with the deadly virus. It was later proven that pets can indeed get infected by the disease. But how often remained unclear.

A new study from the Veterinary Microbiological Diagnostic Center at Utrecht University in the Netherlands has shed light on the issue. “If you have COVID-19, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people,” says Dr. Els Broens, co-author of the study. “The main concern, however, is not the animals’ health — they had no or mild symptoms of COVID-19 — but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population,” he added.

“Fortunately, to date no pet-to-human transmission has been reported,” Broens added. “So, despite the rather high prevalence among pets from COVID-19 positive households in this study, it seems unlikely that pets play a role in the pandemic.”

To get at this conclusion, the scientists took swabs from 310 pets in 196 households in which someone was infected with the coronavirus. Six cats and seven dogs had a positive PCR test, while 54 pets had antibodies to the coronavirus. So about 20 percent of the pets were infected at some point. This is evident from data presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).

Follow-up tests showed that the infected animals had overcome the virus and developed antibodies. And according to the researchers, the most likely transmission route of the virus is from human to animal, and not the other way around.

Still, earlier this year, a group of scientists at the University of East Anglia (England) and the University of Minnesota (U.S.) warned that it might be necessary in the future to vaccinate pets such as cats and dogs against Covid-19 to prevent further spread.

“Just as a precaution to reduce this risk,” Cock van Oosterhout (UEA), one of the researchers and professor of evolutionary genetics, explained at the time. “As a human society, we really need to be prepared for every possibility when it comes to Covid.”

According to the World Organization for Animal Health, there have been no reported cases of transmission of COVID-19 from animals to humans.

Some animals can get sick and show symptoms, such as:

  • cough
  • fever
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • sneezing
  • breathing difficulties
  • vomiting or diarrhea

If you pet is showing one or more these symptoms after someone in your household had been tested positive for covid-19, you should take certain precautions to prevent spread of the virus in case of a positive transmission, including a test that could reveal whether the pet is indeed infected with covid-19.