Cats and dogs can contract coronavirus, Utrecht University study shows
The coronavirus infection can commonly be found in cats and dogs whose owners also were infected, researchers from Utrecht University concluded. "If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people," Els Broens, from Utrecht University, told BBC.
Swabs were taken from 310 pets living in 196 households where previous cases of human infections were known. The test was positive in six cats and seven dogs in total. Antibodies against the virus were also detected in 54 pets, indicating a previous infection.
"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." The researcher also noted that virus transmission was more likely to occur from human to animal than the other way around.
The study was conducted after the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport requested large-scale research into Covid-19 in pets. The research was coordinated by The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the researchers wrote.
“The most important thing is that we determine whether SARS-CoV-2 can continue to circulate between animals and between animals and humans, if the transmission between humans has been contained,” says project leader Arjan Stegeman.
The research also found that most infected pets were asymptomatic or showed only mild symptoms of Covid-19 infection.