WARNING! Study Conducted By Scientist From Netherlands Confirms That The SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Is Also Being Transmitted By Cats!
An alarming study finding has emerged from a research conducted by scientist from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research-Netherlands and Wageningen University-Netherlands in which it has been found that domestic cats play a role in the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-the agent that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The research team has also forwarded their findings to the review boards at the WHO (World Health Organization) and the U.S. CDC to consider updating standard disease warnings.
The study findings were published on a preprint server and are being peer reviewed for publication into a medical journal. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.20.453027v1
Already previous studies had confirmed that cats were susceptible to contracting the SAR-CoV-2 coronavirus and developing the COVID-19 disease as well. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-20097-0
Corresponding author Dr Jose L. Gonzales from the Department of Epidemiology, Bioinformatics & animal models, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research told Thailand Medical News, “Domestic cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, and given that they are in close contact with people, assessing the potential risk cats represent for the transmission and maintenance of SARS-CoV-2 is important.”
The study team reviewed studies that investigated cat-to-cat SARS-CoV-2 transmission either experimentally or under natural conditions within infected households.
Key data collated from these studies indicated that the SARS-CoV-2 reproduction number (R0) among the animals was significantly higher than 1, suggesting that cats may well play a role in the transmission and maintenance of the virus.
Numerous questions about regarding the risk of human to-cat and cat-to-human transmission still remains to be addressed, say the study team.
Dr Gonzales added, “Further data on household transmission and data on virus levels in both the environment around infected cats and their exhaled air could be a step towards assessing these risks.”
Already Cats have previously been indica
ted in SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
A key and relevant concern during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the role that domestic animals could play in the maintenance and transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 Cat Transmission
is not something to be ignored as it could be playing a key role in the spread of the disease.
Importantly the role that cats may play is of particular interest since they live in close contact with humans and are frequently in contact with other cats.
Already field and experimental data have shown that cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, occasionally exhibit mild clinical signs, and may be able to transmit the infection to other cats.
Dr Gonzales further added, “Indeed, transmission experiments confirmed this possibility. However, the lack of a proper statistical assessment of transmission in the reported experiments limits confident extrapolation of the results from the experiment to the population.”
The study team warns that when assessing the transmission risk, it is important to establish whether cat-to-cat transmission can be sustained. The basic R0 is key to answering this question as it refers to the average number of secondary infections that result from exposure to one infected individual.
Dr Gonzales explained, “When the R0 is more than 1, one can expect sustained transmission with a high risk of a major outbreak and endemicity to occur, whereas when R0 is less than 1, the infection is likely to peter out.”
Also, other parameters key to quantifying transmission are the latent period (time from becoming infected to becoming contagious) and the transmission rate (the number of contact infections caused by one infectious individual per unit of time).
The study team reviewed published experimental and observational studies describing SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission between cats.
Research findings and key data from five experimental studies and eight observational were collated and analyzed to confirm whether this transmission can be sustained and to provide estimates of relevant transmission parameters.
Of these, four of the experimental studies assessed direct-contact transmission and one assessed indirect (droplet) transmission. All cats were intranasally inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 (doses ≥ 105 PFU [plaque-forming units]) and transmission was monitored by longitudinally measuring virus shedding in nasal, fecal or oropharyngeal samples.
From the observational studies, data from 12 households shared by infected people and at least one infected cat was analyzed in detailed, and the infection incidence was followed longitudinally.
It was found from the all experimental studies that the latent period was estimated to be approximately one day, with no significant differences observed between inoculated and contact-infected cats.
The study team found that the experimental design heavily influenced the estimated transmission rate. The design used in two of the studies led to the overestimation of this parameter and significant standard errors.
Fortunately the study team found that the pair-transmission design used in three of the studies enabled reliable estimates of the transmission rate and R0.
The study findings from one experiment assessing droplet transmission and two assessing direct transmission confirmed that the R0 was significantly higher than 1.
Alarmingly when the experiments were combined, the estimated R0 was 3.3, which was similar to an estimate of 3.8 generated for the household studies.
Dr Gonzales warned, “To put this into perspective, scenarios in which contacts between stray and household cats take place could lead to persistence of the virus in the cat population.”
Importantly the estimates generated for the infectious period and virus shedding levels were also similar when either the household data and experimental data were used.
Also alarmingly the reported viral shedding levels among household infected cats and those observed experimentally were as high as 108.5 RNA copies per swab sample.
Hence the risk for cat-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 may not be low after all as once thought.
Considering that infected cats shed high levels of virus and that droplet transmission is possible, the risk for cat-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is a big risk and required further investigations and updating of COVID-19 disease management announcements..
The study team said, “Experimental assessment of, for example, the probability of transmission via a contaminated environment around an infected cat and measurements of virus concentrations in infected cats’ exhaled air would provide further information to quantify the risk for cat-to-human transmission. This data combined with more detailed transmission and environmental data from infected household cats could help to further quantify the combined risks of human-to-cat and cat-to-human transmission.”
In the meanwhile all those keeping domestic cats and have cats around their households should exercise extra precautions for themselves as well as the cats.
For more on the latest COVID-19 News
, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.