Dogs and cats can contract and transmit COVID

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Credit: Burhan Ozbilici/AP
Credit: Burhan Ozbilici/AP

Covid is common in pet cats and dogs whose owners have the disease, research suggests.

Swabs were taken from 310 pets in 196 households where a human infection had been detected.

Six cats and seven dogs returned a positive PCR result, while 54 animals tested positive for virus antibodies.

“If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people,” Dr Els Broens, from Utrecht University, said.

“The main concern is not the animals’ health but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population.”

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The researchers say the most likely route of virus transmission is from human to animal, rather than the other way round.

“We can’t say there is a 0% risk of owners catching Covid from their pets,” Veterinary Microbiological Diagnostic Centre Dr Broens said.

“At the moment, the pandemic is still being driven by human-to-human infections, so we just wouldn’t detect it.”

Vets in Russia have started vaccinating some animals against the disease.

But Dr Broens said: “I don’t see the scientific evidence for that now.

“It seems unlikely that pets play a role in the pandemic.”

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