A cat in Belgium recently tested positive for carrying the genome of the current coronavirus outbreak, SARS-CoV-2. This caused widespread panic among pet owners as seemingly another risk was posted in the potential infection of coronavirus.
However, new research has found the cat did not have the coronavirus as we know it, and humans should be safe from catching the disease from our furry friends.
The standard test for SARS-CoV-2 only detects the viral genome and does not necessarily reflect if they are SARS-CoV-2.
The virus detected in the cat was discovered in a stool sample, according to vets from the University of Liège, Belgium.
However, this more than likely means that the cat ate some infected food, and the virus passed harmlessly through it, not infecting the cat itself.
Sarah Caddy, clinical research fellow in viral immunology and veterinary surgeon, University of Cambridge, wrote in an article for The Conversation: “The owner of the cat had recently tested positive for the virus.
“It is reported that the cat developed breathing difficulties and diarrhoea one week later. Vets at the University of Liège, Belgium then tested the cat for SARS-CoV-2 and subsequently detected the viral genome in vomit and a stool sample.
“Should we now be concerned about the virus spreading to cats? To be succinct – not yet. Several key questions need to be answered before any conclusions can be drawn from this case.
“Many people are asking if the coronavirus detected in the cat really is SARS-CoV-2 or whether it could be the completely different cat-only coronavirus, which has been infecting cats worldwide for decades.
“Thankfully, there is still zero evidence of pets transmitting the virus to humans.
“It is also reassuring that a large veterinary diagnostic lab recently stated they have now tested thousands of cat and dog samples for SARS-CoV-2 with no positive cases.”
Around the world, total confirmed coronavirus cases have now surpassed 780,000 – impacting 198 countries.
The number of dead from the disease has also exceeded 37,000 as the US becomes the most infected country in the world.
More than 164,000 people have now confirmed to be infected in the States, 80,000 more than China despite the virus reaching American shores more than a month later.
The US has also seen a surge of cases, with the death toll exceeding 3,100 from March 31.
In the UK, where there are now more than 22,000 confirmed cases, resulting in more than 1,400 deaths, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a lockdown of at least three weeks in a bid to contain the virus.