First documented case: cat infected with Covid-19

A team of Thai researchers reports the first evidence that a domestic cat has infected a human with Sars-CoV-2. The case is described in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Cats thus broaden the list of animals that can transmit the virus to humans.

Since the start of the pandemic, research has shown that cats can shed infectious viral particles and infect other cats. Numerous countries have reported Covid infections in domestic cats during the course of the pandemic, and some big cats in zoos around the world have also been infected. It was previously unclear how cats got infected – cat-to-human or human-to-cat. The Thai study now shows in precise contact tracing that infection from cat to man is possible.

Sneeze in the face

It describes a father and son who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and hospitalized in an isolation ward at the Prince of Songkla University Hospital in Hat Yai, southern Thailand. Her 10-year-old cat also tested positive. During the swab, the cat sneezed in the face of a vet, who was wearing a mask and gloves but without eye protection.

Three days later, the doctor developed a fever, runny nose and cough and later tested positive. But none of the close contacts developed Covid-19, suggesting the vet contracted the cat. Genetic analysis of the virus confirmed that the vet was infected with the same variant of the cat and its owners and that the viral genome sequences were identical.

Rare cat-to-human transmission

According to the researchers, such cases of cat-to-human transmission are likely to be rare. Experimental studies have shown that infected cats do not shed many virus particles and, if they do, only for a few days.

Other animals suspected of infecting humans include farmed minks, hamsters, and wild white-tailed deer. However, these animals currently do not play a significant role in the spread of the virus. However, according to the researchers, humans are still clearly the main source of the virus.

The study can be read here.

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