Antibodies to the virus SARS-CoV-2 found in Wuhan cats

Serological studies confirmed that the virus SARS-CoV-2 capable of infecting domestic cats: antibodies to it were found at 15 of the 102 tested Wuhan animals. In this case, the virus, according to the authors of a Preprintpublished on the website biorxiv.orgcats have not found.

The hypothesis that the virus SARS-CoV-2 can infect not only humans but also Pets based on several assumptions. In particular, this is indicated by the results of studies conducted after the SARS epidemic of 2003. Then the scientists found that the coronavirus SARS-CoV can infect cats and ferrets. In addition, a recent comparison of the structure of ACE2 receptors showedthat the key to virus sites of these receptors in cats, ferrets and humans is very similar (but not dogs). This means that in theory the virus can infect cats and ferrets, and recently it was confirmed in practice. The first case of infection of cats by the owner was recorded recently in Belgium. Veterinarians say that first, this was an isolated case and for the transmission of the virus required close contact with a sick person, and secondly, there is no evidence that a sick cat can infect a person. Later on the site biorxiv.org was published Preprint of the work, the authors experimentally confirmed the ability of the virus to infect ferrets and cats on a small sample. Animals ill with virtually no symptoms and can infect each other, by sneezing. Among other Pets (dogs, pigs, ducks, chickens) coronavirus was transmitted very poorly.

Qiang Zhang (Zhang Qiang) and his colleagues at the Agricultural University of Wuhan has tested cats for antibodies to the virus SARS-CoV-2. In 102 cats caught during the epidemic in shelters and veterinary clinics, took blood samples and swabs from the nasopharynx and anus, and in the quality control took similar samples from 39 cats treated in the spring of 2019. Antibody tests for cats not yet been developed, so the researchers tested for their presence using indirect ELISA, and their effectiveness assessed by their ability to neutralize the virus in cell culture.

15 tested cats the level of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 was above the threshold set on the basis of the results from the control group animals, and in 12 of these antibodies was able to neutralize the virus in vitro. The presence of antibodies in 15% of the investigated animals speaks in favor of the assumption that many of Wuhan cats were also infected with SARS-CoV-2. Exactly how the virus is transmitted from human to cats is not clear. The authors stress that they have no evidence that cats can transmit the virus back to people, but I propose nevertheless to observe in relation to these animals the same precautions as apply to people.

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