Cats can become infected with the new coronavirus but dogs appear not to be vulnerable, according to a study published on Wednesday, 8 April, prompting the WHO to say it will take a closer look at transmission of the virus between humans and pets.
The study, published on the website of the journal Science, found that ferrets can also become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the scientific term for the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease.
Felines are vulnerable?
Dogs, chickens, pigs and ducks are not likely to catch the virus, however, the researchers found.
The study was aimed at identifying which animals are vulnerable to the virus so they can be used to test experimental vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 83,000 people worldwide since it emerged in China in December.
SARS-CoV-2 is believed to have spread from bats to humans. Except for a few reported infections in cats and dogs, there has not been strong evidence that pets can be carriers.
A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City who developed a dry cough and loss of appetite after contact with an infected zookeeper tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday.
Ferrets among the vulnerable animals
The study, based on research conducted in China in January and February, found cats and ferrets highly susceptible to the virus when researchers attempted to infect the animals by introducing viral particles via the nose.
They also found cats can infect each other via respiratory droplets. Infected cats had virus in the mouth, nose and small intestine. Kittens exposed to the virus had massive lesions in their lungs, nose and throat.