Two studies developed by researchers at Kansas State University have concluded that cats, domestic and wild, could be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.
The report, published in the magazine Emerging Microbes & Infections, raises the possibility that cats are infected, even if they do not suffer any symptoms, and can emit virus particles through their nose, mouth or anus for two days. The investigation confirms contagion from cats to cats, but it cannot do the same with the infection of cats to other animals or, even, to humans. “This requires more research,” says Jürgen A. Richt, regent at the Kansas State University School of Veterinary Medicine and lead author of the study.
“Human patients infected by coronavirus could transmit the coronavirus to cats, whether they are domestic or large, such as tigers or lions”, explained Richt, who has quantified the number of domestic cats in the world at 95 million and between 60 and 100 million that of wild cats.
Richt, who is also the director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) and the Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CEZID), has highlighted the importance of continuing to study transmission between humans and cats, since it would provoke “a different approach in public and animal health”.
COVID-19 in pigs
The research also hypothesized that pigs were also asymptomatic. But nevertheless, Scientists deny that they can contract the disease and it does not seem that they are capable of transmitting it either.
Regardless of the results obtained, Richt’s work team He will continue his research to analyze how SARS-CoV-2 behaves in cats and pigs and, among other things, to verify if felines generate some kind of immunity when they overcome the first infection by the disease.
The K-State Biosecutity Research Institute (BRI), in Pat Roberts Hall, has been the place where the studies have been developed. There they have had high security laboratories in the middle of a biosafety level 3 agricultural facility.
“These works are very important to assess risks, implement mitigation strategies and for the development of preclinical animal models that serve to evaluate candidates for drugs and vaccines against the virus”, Richt concluded.