Thursday 10 September 2020

Early Chinese study in Wuhan found 15% of tested cats had been exposed to Covid-19

NEWS AND ANALYSIS: An early study on domestic, abandoned, hospitalised and shelter cats in Wuhan by scientists from the Huazhong Agricultural University found that 15% of the cats had antibodies to Covid-19. This means that they had been exposed to the virus because their bodies had created antibodies to defend them. 11 of the cats had neutralising antibodies meaning that they had blocked the infection.

Wuhan during the early stages of the pandemic indicating that residents had abandoned homes and pets

None of the cats tested positive for the virus but they had been exposed to it which is why they had created antibodies. The sample of 102 cats included 41 from five hospitals, three from animal shelters and 45 abandoned cats. 15 of the cats were from families i.e. they were domestic cats in a home.

Three of the cats with the highest levels of antibodies were owned cats. The researchers decided that some of the cats had been affected by other cats from those that had been abandoned or were in pet hospitals. Owned cats had got the disease from their owners it is suggested. None of the cats displayed obvious symptoms and none of them died.

They concluded that these cats got the infection from an environment that had been "polluted" with the Covid-19 virus.

The research is not that significant in my opinion. We know that domestic cats can get the virus from humans but we don't know whether domestic and feral cats are a danger to people in terms of their ability to spread the disease back to people. They say that precautions should be taken. The only interesting aspect of this study is the percentage of cats that had caught or been exposed to the virus which is much higher than previously thought.

Source: Hindustan Times online via a wire feed.

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