Two cats tested positive for Covid-19 in New York. Once infected, can animals infect humans?
[Mis à jour le 29 avril 2020 à 16h05] Recently, two cats tested positive for Covid-19 in New York. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), these are the first pets officially infected with coronavirus in the United States. The two cats presented respiratory problems. Their veterinarians hope for a complete recovery of the animals. The first cat was infected by an asymptomatic patient, the second by its owner Covid +. These cases are not the first since the start of the pandemic. Other cats, dogs and a tiger have also been diagnosed.
Knowing these data, the Institut Pasteur in collaboration with teams from the National Veterinary School of Alfort studied the transmission of the virus in animals. To do this, they tested 9 cats and 12 dogs in « very close contact with their owners » sick of Covid-19. In a press release the Institut Pasteur reported that « although some pets have shown some clinical signs compatible with coronavirus infection, no animal has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, by PCR method and none antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 were only detected in their blood using a serological test. » The research team concluded that « these data suggest that pets (dogs and cats) are not easily infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus even in contact with infected owners. »
These data from the Institut Pasteur confirm the opinion issued on April 15, 2020 by the National Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health Security (ANSES). In the light of new scientific knowledge, the establishment concluded « that there is currently no evidence that domestic animals (livestock and companion animals) play an epidemiological role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2. moreover, no case of contamination of Man by a pet has been reported to date. »
This conclusion is based in particular on a Chinese study published in early April. It emerged that in dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks the new coronavirus « reproduces badly ». On the other hand, « young cats are receptive to the virus ». The clinical trial identified « lesions in the respiratory system » of the feline. Ferrets and hamsters are also susceptible to the virus.
Apply « barrier gestures »
With regard to these data, ANSES recalled « the need to preserve pets from close contact with sick people and to apply basic hygiene measures when contacting a domestic animal while washing hands before and after petting him, after changing his litter box, and applying ‘barrier gestures’ in any situation. «
In addition, in a report of March 11, 2020, the experts of the ANSES excluded « the possibility of direct transmission of the virus by a food resulting from a contaminated animal. » If there is food contamination, it is of human origin. « An infected person can contaminate food by preparing or handling it with dirty hands, or by exposing it to infectious droplets when coughing and sneezing. » In order to mitigate any contamination, ANSES recommends « heat treatment at 63 ° C for 4 min ».