The research presented by Dorothee Bienzle, a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases regarding the transmission of Covid from owners to their pets is surprising to me. The professor and her colleagues studied 48 cats and 54 dogs from 77 households. They tested them for antibodies to Covid which means they tested whether they’d had Covid in the past.
NOTE: if you decide to do something in response to this article OR the same information on different websites do at least one thing: keep your pet and love him or her. Just take some precautions if you want to, but don’t under any circumstances get rid of your companion animal aS that would be highly unethical.
And the statistics are quite remarkable I feel. They found that 67% of cats had antibodies to Covid and 43% of dogs tested positive for antibodies. They had all had Covid. Comment: was this a random sample of 77 households? Or did the professor select households where the homeowner was known to have had Covid? We are not told that which I find surprising. I ask because the numbers are high. Note: Covid is a zoonotic disease – transmissible between animals and humans. This is rare for infectious diseases.
One central finding which is being reported in news media online is that a major way that cats get Covid from their owners is when they sleep on their bed. And cats like to do this. The study looked at how people interacted with their cats and dogs. The professor said: “if someone has Covid-19 there is a surprisingly high chance they will pass it on to their pet. Cats, especially those that sleep on their owner’s bed, seem to be particularly vulnerable.”
27% of cats had symptoms such as runny noses and difficulty in breathing which are common signs of Covid. 20% of dogs had symptoms, mainly lack of energy and loss of appetite. Some dogs had a cough or diarrhoea. The symptoms were mild and they cleared up quickly. The rate of exposure to Covid in animal shelters is much lower. The report states: “This compares to just 9% (7/75) of dogs and cats from the animal shelter and 3% (2/75) of the stray cats.”
The professor said that the cat’s biology including their viral receptors (the locks that the virus unpicks to get into the cells of the cat) make them more susceptible to Covid than dogs. And they said that cats more often sleep close to their owner’s face than dogs which exposes them to the virus.
The professor recommends that people keep their dogs and cats away from other people and their companion animals.
Comment: the conclusion I make from this conference presentation is that cats can get Covid from their owners through contact either direct or indirect. And the percentage is quite high. It appears to me that cats can get Covid from people as easily as people can get Covid from people. But the difference appears to be that cats don’t give it to people anywhere near as efficiently as people spread the disease to other people.
That is why nothing will be done about protecting companion animals in the home to try and curb the spread of the disease to these animals and creating a potential reservoir. The professor did mention that she can’t rule out the possibility of companion animals passing the disease to people. This has been mentioned before in the past a number of times but nobody, as yet, has come up with any definitive information about how efficiently or no pets pass the disease to their owners and other people.
I sense, too, that most citizens of most countries are fed up with hearing information about Covid. That’s why I was reluctant to write this article! I believe that the majority of people have had enough and want to get back to normal. Also, I think that most people don’t want to see data any more about the number of deaths et cetera which have been a daily ritual in the news media.
It’s time to relate to this disease as just another disease like cancer or genuine flu. News media do not present data about cancer daily in the newspapers. Let’s, please, do the same thing with Covid at this stage. It’s time to move on and accept it as part of life’s potential illnesses. The vaccine has prevented serious symptoms and death which encourages me to believe that we can do just that in countries where the vaccination rate is high.
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