Infected animals can transmit Covid-19 to humans, scientists in Thailand report and cite evidence
A veterinarian, a cat and its owners were infected with the same variant of the coronavirus. It could have entered the woman’s body through her eyes because she wasn’t wearing protective eyewear or a screen.
Experts at Prince of Songkla University in the Thai province of the same name have proved the possibility of transmission of the coronavirus from a pet to a human, confirming that a veterinarian became ill after coming into contact with an infected cat. The work was published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
A 32-year-old female veterinarian in Songkhla province examined an apparently healthy family cat from Bangkok in August 2021 who had been hospitalized with covid at a local university hospital due to a lack of hospital beds in the capital. A few days later, the woman showed symptoms of coronavirus, a PCR test confirmed infection. Scientists used genomic sequencing to determine that the doctor, the cat and its owners were infected with the same variant of the coronavirus.
“Identical SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences obtained from Patient A (the veterinarian) and sequences obtained from the cat and her two owners indicate that their infections were epidemiologically related. Because Patient A had not previously encountered Patient B or C, she probably contracted SARS-CoV-2 from the cat when the cat sneezed in her face,” the paper said.
The researchers allowed that the virus could have entered the woman’s body through her eyes because she was not wearing protective eyewear or a screen at the time. They also speculated that no more than a week passed from the time the cat was infected to the vet due to the short incubation period seen in these animals.
“Thus, we have presented evidence that cats can transmit SARS-CoV-2 infection to humans. However, the frequency of this mode of transmission is relatively rare because of the short (average of 5 days) duration of viable virus excretion in cats. Nevertheless, to prevent human-to-cat transmission of SARS-CoV-2, individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should refrain from contact with their cat,” the authors concluded.
They also added that it is important for veterinarians and people caring for animals to wear protective eyewear.
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