Only 11% of dogs and cats that live in the homes of people who have had covid-19 have the virus in the airways. These animals, however, do not develop the disease, according to research carried out by the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUC-PR).
This means that they have positive molecular tests for SARS-CoV-2 but no clinical signs of the disease.
According to veterinarian Marconi Rodrigues de Farias, professor at the School of Life Sciences at PUC-PR and one of those responsible for the study, so far, 55 animals were evaluated, 45 dogs and 10 cats. The animals were divided into two groups: those who had contact with people diagnosed with covid-19 and those who had not.
The research aims to analyze whether animals that cohabit with people with covid-19 have respiratory symptoms similar to those of guardians, feel difficulty breathing or have nasal or eye discharge.
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PCR tests were carried out, that is, molecular tests, based on the research of the genetic material of the virus (RNA) in samples collected by swab (long and sterile cotton swab) from the nasopharynx of the animals and also blood collections, in order to see if the domestic dogs and cats had the virus. “They get the virus, but it doesn’t replicate in dogs and cats. They cannot transmit”, explained Farias.
According to the researcher, the possibility of dogs and cats transmitting the disease is very small. The study also concludes that around 90% of animals, even having contact with positive people, do not have the virus in the airways.
According to Farias, so far, it can be said that domestic animals have low potential in the epidemiological cycle of the disease.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the virus can mutate. For the time being, domestic dogs and cats do not develop the disease. The continuity of the work of the PUC-PR researchers will reveal whether this virus, in contact with animals, can mutate and, from then on, in the future, start to infect domestic dogs and cats as well.
“This can happen. Then the dog and cat would start to replicate the virus. It could happen in the future. We don’t know.”
Therefore, according to the expert, it is important to control the disease and vaccinate the population en masse, to prevent the dog and cat from having access to a high viral load, as this can favor the mutation.
The new stage of research will assess whether the dog and cat have antibodies against the virus. The data should be completed between November and December this year.
The work has resources from PUC-PR itself and from the Regional Development Bank of the Extreme South (BRDE).
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