Pets Can Catch COVID From Their Owners Interview with:

Dr Els Broens

Dr. Els Broens

Els M. Broens DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECVM, EBVS
European Veteirnary Specialist in Veterinary Microbiology
Associate Professor / Director VMDC
Department Biomolecular Health Sciences (Clinical Infectiology)
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine | Utrecht University What is the background for this study?

Response: Several events have demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 can infect animals, felines and mustelids in particular. In companion animals these are currently considered to be incidents with a negligible risk for public health since the main force of the pandemic is transmission between humans. However, it is urgent to understand the potential risk of animal infections for public health in the later stages of the pandemic when SARS-CoV-2 transmission between humans is greatly reduced and a virus reservoir in animals could become more important.

Incidental cases have shown that COVID-19 positive owners can transmit SARS-CoV-2 to their dog or cat. The close contact between owners and their dogs and cats and the interaction between dogs and cats from different households raises questions about the risk for pets to contract the disease and also about role of these animals in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. What are the main findings? Is pet-pet or pet-human transmission also possible?  (ie from kennels etc).

Response: The study reveals that about 20% of dogs and cats living in close contact with COVID-19 positive persons become infected. The most likely route of transmission seems to be from human to pet. The burden of disease seems low in dogs and cats. Despite the rather high prevalence found in our study, it seems unlikely that pets play a significant role in the pandemic. So far, no evidence is found for pet-to-human transmission. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Pet owners should be aware that they can infect their pets and therefore it is recommended to avoid contact with your pet as much as possible when persons are diagnosed COVID-19 positive. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It would be of great interest to combine genetic data of SARS-CoV-2 in animals and humans together with epidemiological data. By doing so, researchers can explore the extent to which transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to animals occurs. All data should be used as input for mathematical models that can unravel more on the efficiency of transmission between humans and pets. These models can subsequently be used to assess the effectiveness of potential measures, e.g. avoid contact with pets, keep pets indoors or vaccination of pets.

Citation: ECCMID 2021 abstract:

High prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in dogs and cats living in COVID-19 positive



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Last Updated on June 30, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD