Coronavirus can infect cats, not dogs: Study

Shreya

New Delhi, Apr 09: After a Tiger at Bronx Zoo tested positive for coronavirus, studies show that house cats but apparently not dogs can be infected, prompting the WHO to probe transmission of the virus between humans and pets.

"Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in cats should be considered as an adjunct to elimination of COVID-19 in humans," reveals a study, published on the website of the journal Science.

Dogs, chickens, pigs and ducks are not likely to catch the virus, however, the researchers found.

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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.

Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the popular Bronx Zoo here has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, probably infected by an asymptomatic employee, in what is believed to be the first known case of an animal infected with COVID-19 in the US, raising new questions about human-to-animal transmission of the deadly virus.

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The tigress, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions had developed a dry cough late last month with decrease in appetite, said the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the zoo.

Nadia, along with other big cats, is thought to have been infected by the zookeeper who has not been identified, it said in a statement on Sunday, adding that all the animals are expected to recover.

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The coronavirus, first detected in humans in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, is believed to have spread from animals to humans, and a handful of animals, including two dogs, have tested positive in Hong Kong.

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