Brits are a nation of pet lovers what would happen if our four-legged friends became a vessel for a more deadly Covid variant? Whether coronavirus could jump from animals to humans has long been under investigation. Scientists have long debated whether another dangerous mutation could emerge in animals and then be passed onto humans. What’s the science behind this? Should we be worried?
It is widely thought SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes Covid) originated in bats.
As early as April 2020 evidence emerged cats could be infected with SARS-CoV-2.
The study also revealed cats would pass on the infection to other cats within the same month under certain conditions.
Scientists throughout the world have been desperately studying the transmission of Covid infections from humans to animals to find out how big a problem this could be.
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So far the presence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals has been shown in dogs, mink, ferrets and other species.
Sometimes infecting certain species with SARS-CoV-2 could cause actual disease and consequent health issues for the animals.
But there appears to be limited evidence of transmission of the virus between pets and their owners according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to their data, there is evidence of transmission from humans to cats but very little evidence of cats passing on the virus to their owners.
On top of this, there is little evidence to suggest cats can pass on the virus to other cats in non-laboratory settings i.e. normal situations.
CDC wrote on their website: “Based on the available information to date, the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to people is considered to be low.”
But the CDC added a note of caution: “We are still learning about this virus, but we know that it can spread from people to animals in some situations, especially during close contact.
“More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.”
Based on the CDC’s findings it is unlikely even if a new deadly variant emerged in animals that it could be passed to humans.
When transmission between animals and humans has occurred it has only been recognised as humans passing the virus onto cats, not the other way around.
But if you are concerned your furry friend might be susceptible to the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a list of animals and their estimated susceptibility to SARS-CoV2.
These studies are based largely on experimental data and do not include most animals.
As these studies are in still their infancy, studies on a wide range of animals may not have been made yet.
But, this list does show certain popular pets such as dogs appear to have low susceptibility to the virus.
On the other hand, your feline friend may be at a higher risk of catching the virus as they seem to have higher susceptibility.
Other animals the WHO list as having high susceptibility include Golden Syrian hamsters, marmosets, and macaques.