Pet cats in Belgium & HK get Covid-19 from owners, animal-to-human transmission risk remains 'very small'

Poor kitty.

Syahindah Ishak | April 01, 2020, 02:32 PM

A cat in Belgium had tested positive for Covid-19, according to The Brussels Times.

Owner was infected first

The cat's owner had been infected with Covid-19 after traveling to northern Italy, reported Science News.

About a week later, the cat fell ill.

It had diarrhoea, kept vomiting and also had breathing difficulties.

Subsequent test results showed that the cat's faeces and vomit samples contained high levels of genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19.

The samples were collected and sent to the lab by the owner.

However, a veterinarian has yet to examine the cat.

Animal-to-human transmission is very small

The cat recovered after nine days.

Researchers will run a blood test for Covid-19 antibodies once it is released from quarantine to provide more concrete evidence of an infection.

However, even if the cat tests positive for Covid-19 antibodies, it may still be tough to conclusively prove that Covid-19 had made the cat sick.

Science News reported that other pathogens can cause respiratory and stomach issues in cats.

At a news conference on Mar. 27, microbiologist Emmanuel André said:

"We want to stress that this is an isolated case. There are no indications that this is common."

He added that the risk of animal-to-human transmission is very small.

Another cat tested positive in Hong Kong

Another cat has also been infected with Covid-19 in Hong Kong, according to Reuters.

The cat tested positive after its owner was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Samples collected from the cat’s mouth, nose and rectum tested positive for the virus.

It was quarantined on Mar. 30.

Hong Kong authorities stated that the cat will be monitored and examined.

Should not abandon pets

Hong Kong's Agricultural and Fisheries department said that there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of Covid-19.

It added that owners should not abandon their pets.

The cat in Hong Kong is the third pet animal to test positive for Covid-19 in the city.

Previously, two dogs had tested positive for Covid-19.

To date, there is no evidence that a cat, dog or any pet can transmit Covid-19.

Top image by Tamar Waskeyvia Unsplash, for illustration purpose only.