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Study Finds That Cats Can Contract COVID-19 Virus

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  • Scientists found out that cats are more vulnerable on contracting the virus than other pets or animals such as dogs, pigs, chicken and ducks.
  • Experts recommend that people who tested positive of coronavirus should observe self-distancing measures, not only from their family but also from their pets so as to prevent transmitting the virus to cats or other felines.

Following a report of a tiger in New York’ Bronx Zoo testing positive of the coronavirus, a study that published by the Journal Science has said that cats or other felines can be infected of the coronavirus.

According to researchers, their study showed that while there was no “strong evidence” that pets, such as cats and dogs, can carry and transmit the coronavirus to humans – it may actually be the other way around.

“What these data do provide is support for the recommendation that people who are with COVID-19 should be distancing themselves, not only from other household members but also from their household pets, so as not to transmit the virus to their pets, particularly to cats or other felines,” explained Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in a Reuters report.

The study was conducted in China from January to February. During the research, scientists attempted to infect the animals by “introducing viral particles” through their noses. Through that introduction, researchers found that cats and ferrets are “highly susceptible” to the virus compared with other animals like dogs, pigs, and chickens.

The researchers also stated that cats can also infect fellow cats through respiratory droplets. Infected adult cats have virus in their mouths, noses, and small intestines, while kittens that were exposed to the virus can experience “massive lesions’ in their lungs, throats, and noses.

Antibody tests in dogs, on the other hand, revealed that they are less likely to contract the coronavirus, while pigs, chickens, and duck introduced to the viral particle also showed no presence of the virus strain.

The research was done to identify which animals are susceptible to the virus so they can be used for experimental vaccines.

Meanwhile, a report recently said that a tiger in New York’s Bronx Zoo showed symptoms such as dry cough and appetite loss. The animal eventually tested positive of the virus and it’s been said that the disease may have been contracted from an asymptomatic zookeeper.

Due to this incident, the World Health Organization prompted its partners to conduct further research about the role of pets in the ongoing health crisis.

In a news press conference, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kekhove confirmed that pets can be infected by their masters, but it is less likely that the virus can be transmitted to humans by their pets.

“We don’t believe that they are playing a role in transmission but we think that they may be able to be infected from an infected person,” she said.

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