Coronavirus can destroy companion animals’ sense of smell
A short article in The Sunday Times refers to a research paper in the Canadian Journal “Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases”. The research says that, “Contrary to earlier assertions by health agencies that the virus could not cause illness in pets, the cat developed both respiratory and enteric [intestinal] symptoms and took nine days to recover”.
The new research indicates that the disease in animals could cause them to lose their sense of smell. We know that one of the symptoms of the disease in humans is to lose a sense of smell. In fact, this is quite a common symptom amongst a range of signs of an infection.
Without in any way wishing to promote unnecessary anxiety (and people should not be anxious about this) the researchers warned that if companion animals are found capable of carrying the disease even without symptoms they could be a “a reservoir of infection contributing to continued human-to-human disease, infectivity, and community spread”. Although at present all the reports are of humans infecting companion animals not the other way around.
There is a possibility that it could become established in livestock said a team led by Tracey McNamara, a professor of pathology at Western University of Health Services’ College of Veterinary Medicine in California.
The risk concerning companion animals is low as confirmed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An interesting development, though, is that specialist dogs trained to detect drugs or explosives risk losing their sense of smell and therefore there jobs at least temporarily. I hadn’t thought about that prospect before now.
Comment: this is the first time I have read a report which specifically refers to symptoms in domestic cats which are very similar to those in humans because in the past references have been to very mild and low-level symptoms. A Bronx Zoo tiger had similar symptoms.