Thursday Jun 30, 2022
Scientists in Thiland have established that cats can actually transmit COVID-19 to humans as a veterinary surgeon got the SARS-CoV-2 infection from a tabby cat, as per an article published in the scientific journal Nature.
Studies show that cats spread viral infection particles among other cats, but cases of cat-to-human transfer of infections are rare.
However, the first-ever solid evidence for such a case presented by the Thai team has added cats to the list of animals that can be a source of virus transmission.
Researchers say they have known the possibility for two years, considering the scale of the pandemic, the virus's ability to spread between animals and close contact between people with cats.
The study “is an interesting case report, and a great example of what good contact tracing can do”, the publication quoted virologist Marion Koopmans from Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, as saying.
The evidence is based on the case of a ten-year-old cat sneezed in the face of a veterinary surgeon — who was wearing a mask and gloves but his eyes were uncovered — while being swabbed for COVID-19 testing. The cat was tested positive after its owner and his son, who was also infected, were shifted to an isolation ward in August.
After three days, the vet developed symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, sniffles and a cough and later tested positive. The evidence for her being infected by the cats was strong as none of her close contacts developed COVID-19.
Later, it was confirmed by the genetic analysis and identical genome sequencing as the vet was infected with the same variant as the cat and its owners.