A veterinarian in Thailand likely contracted the coronavirus from an contaminated pet cat final yr, researchers concluded in a new study. It is the first documented case of suspected cat-to-human transmission, though experts stress that the danger of cats infecting people with the virus stays low total.
One of the cat’s two homeowners, who each had Covid-19, in all probability handed the virus to the cat, which then sneezed in the veterinarian’s face, in accordance to the paper, which was written by scientists at Thailand’s Prince of Songkla University. 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 in the native inhabitants at the time.
Cats are way more likely to catch the virus from individuals than to transmit it to them, scientists say. But the case is a reminder that individuals who are 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 at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
“When issues grow to be human ailments, we too typically neglect every part else,” he mentioned. “I feel it’s vital for us to acknowledge this virus nonetheless can transfer between species.”
Previous analysis has proven that pet homeowners can infect their cats and that, in sure situations, cats can transmit the virus to one another. But it has been troublesome 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 new paper appeared this week in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is printed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It makes a robust case for cat-to-human transmission, Dr. Weese mentioned: “They’ve received 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. Because of a scarcity of hospital beds in Bangkok, the two males have been transported on Aug. 8 to a hospital in Songkhla, a province in southern Thailand, by way of a 20-hour ambulance experience. For causes that are unclear, they introduced their pet cat.
When the males have been admitted to the hospital, the cat was despatched to a veterinary hospital for an examination. Although the cat appeared to be wholesome, the veterinarian, a 32-year-old girl, collected nasal and rectal swabs, which examined optimistic for the virus. While the veterinarian was swabbing the cat’s nostril, the animal sneezed in her face. (The veterinarian was sporting gloves and a masks throughout the examination, but 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 at the time.
P.C.R. testing means that the cat had a excessive viral load at the time of its veterinary examination. None of the veterinarian’s shut contacts are identified to have had Covid-19 at the time, and she or he had no prior encounters with the pet’s homeowners, including assist to the principle 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 individuals who are contaminated with the virus avoid contact with their pets. “If you’re attempting to keep away from individuals since you’re doubtlessly infectious,” Dr. Weese mentioned, “simply strive to keep away from animals at the identical time.”