Experts recommend that owners of Covid-19 infected cats and dogs avoid their pets.
Researchers in the Netherlands found that coronavirus can be spread to pets by owners who have the disease. Although cases of pet owners passing on Covid-19 are not considered to pose a risk to public health and pets, scientists warn that there could be a risk that domestic animals may act as a reservoir for the virus and introduce it to humans.
Dr Els Broens from Utrecht University said that if you have Covid-19 you should not be in contact with your cat or dogs, as you would with other people.
However, the main concern is not animals' health if they have no or mild symptoms. It is the risk that their pets could be a reservoir for the virus and allow it to be reintroduced into the human population.
To date, there has not been any evidence of pet-to-human transmission. It seems unlikely that pets are involved in the pandemic, despite their high prevalence in Covid-19-positive households.
Broens presented the research at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, but it has not been published in any journal.
Broens and his associates analysed the PCR results of 156 dogs, 154 cats and 196 households. Six cats and seven dogs (4.2%) had positive PCR test results, while 31 cats (and 23 dogs (17.4%), tested positive for antibodies.
Eight cats and eight dogs who lived in the same households as the PCR-positive animals were tested again to confirm that the virus was being transmitted between them. The virus was not detected in any of the tested animals, indicating that the virus wasn't being transmitted between pets who live close together.
Researchers found that Covid-19 was highly prevalent in pets of people with the disease.
Separate research was presented at the ECCMID meeting that suggests that cats who sleep on their owners' beds may be at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.
Dorothee Bienzle is a Canadian professor of veterinary pathology, University of Guelph. She presented the findings.
Cats that sleep on their owners' beds are especially vulnerable. If you have Covid-19, it is important to keep your pet away from your bedroom and not allow it to sleep on your bed.
Bienzle recommends that coronavirus-infected pets be kept away from people and other pets. She stated that although there is not much evidence that pets can transmit the virus to other pets, it cannot be denied. The possibility that pets could transmit the virus to humans is also possible, even though it has not been proven.
Professor James Wood, head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge University, commented on the findings. He said that both studies were consistent and growing numbers of studies suggesting that pets may be infected by Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19.
He said that although cats and dogs can be infected, most reports indicate that the infection is asymptomatic. The virus is not transmitted from cats and dogs to other animals or owners.
These studies must be distinguished from previous work which reported that only a small percentage of cats and dogs became ill after being given Covid-19 by their owners.