According to the WHO, “there is no evidence” that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. Experts interviewed by franceinfo confirm that crossing the “species barrier” is rare.
They are collateral victims of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus epidemic. In China and especially in Wuhan, pets have been abandoned by their owners. These dogs and cats have been locked up for days in their house or apartment, left to their own devices. Their owners have largely left for the Lunar New Year holidays and the quarantine imposed on the megalopolis prevents them from returning.
The Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association reports on its Facebook page that it has already rescued more than 600 of these pets. Volunteers sometimes display treasures of ingenuity to help them.
But at the same time, the rumor of dogs and cats killed in the middle of the street for fear that they would transmit the disease has spread on social networks, bloody photos in support. The images of dogs with a protective mask on the muzzle are increasing. Faced with psychosis, a question arises: can pets be infected with this new coronavirus and in turn contaminate the humans with whom they keep company?
A major obstacle stands in the way of the virus: “the species barrier”, explains to franceinfo Olivier Bouchaud, doctor in the service of infectious and tropical diseases of the Avicenne hospital in Bobigny. “This barrier is not insurmountable, since it is likely that an animal is at the origin of the transmission [du coronavirus 2019-nCoV] to the man, Recognizes the doctor.
According to a hypothesis on which Chinese scientists are working, but which remains to be confirmed, the new coronavirus could come from a bat and a small mammal, the pangolin, could have played the intermediary between the bat and the man. Stay, insist Olivier Bouchaud, that“it takes a succession of special and rare conditions for this [franchissement de la barrière d’espèce] is possible “.
Olivier Bouchaud therefore considers it unlikely that an apartment dog or cat will transmit the virus to its owner. “At the individual level, being contaminated by your pet seems all the less possible since it should already have been able to be in contact with an infected person with crossing the barrier ‘in the other direction'”, notes the doctor.
Like their owners, pets are certainly not immune to viral diseases. But they generally do not catch the same, underlines Anne Goffard, virologist at the Lille University Hospital and researcher at the Institut Pasteur de Lille.
Coronaviruses exist in cats and dogs, but until today, they did not infect humans.at franceinfo
And the expert to continue: “For the moment, human coronaviruses do not pass into pets. “ “SARS has been isolated from wild animals – civets – sold in Chinese markets, but not from domestic animals”, recalls Anne-Claude Crémieux, infectious disease specialist at the Saint-Louis hospital in Paris.
“In order for pets to be infected, they would have to have the same cellular receptor that interacts with the binding domain of 2019-Ncov “, develops Samira Fafi-Kremer, head of the virology laboratory at Strasbourg university hospitals. However, says the expert, in the case of the new coronavirus, this entry point for infection in the body may well be the same in humans and certain animals, according to recent research ( here, here and there).
“Very recently, Chinese and American researchers have reported that the human cell receptor for nCoV is an enzyme called ACE2 which interacts with the surface protein of the virus and which allows infection of human cells”, details the specialist. Gold, “It would appear that the binding sites on ACE2 specific to nCoV are the same as those present in other animals such as pigs and cats”.
Samira Fafi-Kremer therefore concludes that“based on these data from the literature, these animals can be infected and transmit to humans or vice versa “. So the risk exists in theory but no case has been found to verify it. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not yet agree with this conclusion.
There is currently no evidence that pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.in his advice to the general public
At this stage, the WHO therefore indicates rather than“it is always good to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets “. Not to guard against the new coronavirus, but because it “protects against various common bacteria” such as Escherichia coli and salmonella “who can go from pets to humans”. But as Samira Fafi-Kremer reminds us, “still it is necessary that the man or his animal meets the virus” and nCoV-2019 “does not circulate in France”.