Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
A veterinary school in France has reported the first case of a cat infected with coronavirus in the country.
As a result of the feline being found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 – which causes COVID-19, veterinarians are recommending that people limit contact with their pets
The case was confirmed by the national Alfort veterinary school’s virology research unit, in the the Val-de-Marne department just outside Paris on Saturday, who conducted tests on “about 10” felines who had been in contact with owners suspected of having contracted COVID-19. The national health agency ANSES also worked on the case.
It is believed that the cat caught the virus from its owners who have both tested positive for coronavirus.
A PCR [polymerase chain reaction; a method to quickly make millions of copies of a DNA sample to study it in detail] test was done on each cat and the World Organisation for Animal Health confirmed the results for the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
The cat actually originally tested negative for COVID-19 on a rectal swab but a nasal swab and PCR test revealed it to be infected with the disease. The Alfort vet school stated that it also had “clinical signs” including problems breathing and “digestive issues.”
The Alfort school (EnvA) recommends that owners limit contact with their pets and wear protective gear such as a mask when near them. They should also wash their hands before and after touching the animal.
France now joins the USA, China and Belgium on the list of countries with confirmed cases of cats being infected with the virus but scientists maintain that felines cannot pass the disease on to humans.
The EnvA said in its statement that “transmission from man to cat is rare but distancing is recommended”.
Sophie Le Poder, who is a professor of virology at the EnvA and who co-authored the study, said: “We were quite selective in our research and tested about ten well-targeted animals.”
She added that they were continuing their study of pets that might have been infected by the virus.
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