Paw-ly in the pandemic: pets can catch virus from owners
A woman wearing a face mask walks her dog on a beach in Melbourne on September 11, 2020, as the city continues to enforce lockdown measures to battle a second wave of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
AFP/William WEST
Paw-ly in the pandemic: pets can catch virus from owners
(Agence France-Presse) - September 18, 2020 - 8:08am

LONDON, United Kingdom — Cat and dog owners suffering from Covid-19 can pass their illness onto their feline and canine companions, according to a small study released Friday.

The new coronavirus is a "zoonotic" infection — meaning it has jumped into humans from animals — and while there is little sign that pets play a major role in spreading the virus, there is growing evidence that cats, dogs and even tigers may catch it.    

In the latest preliminary research, which has not been peer reviewed, veterinary science experts in Canada tested the pets of a group of people with a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis.  

In a first group, they took swabs from 17 cats, 18 dogs and one ferret whose owners had a diagnosis within two weeks. These were all negative for a current illness, except one unclear result.  

Then they gave blood antibody tests to eight cats and 10 dogs, whose owners were outside the two-week window, comparing these to control samples taken from the same animals before the pandemic.  

Among the cats the results indicated presence of IgG or IgM antibodies in four (50 percent) and three (38 percent) respectively, while two dogs also tested positive (20 percent).  

All cats and one of the dogs with antibodies were reported to have shown signs of respiratory or other illness at the same time as their owners. 

"While eligible participant number was limited by relatively low human transmission rates in the study area, these preliminary results suggest that a substantial proportion of pets in households of persons with COVID-19 end up developing antibodies," said study co-author Dorothee Bienzle, Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

Independent experts commenting on the research, which will be presented at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Conference on Coronavirus Disease later this month, said the sample size was too small to draw broad conclusions and that pet owners should not be alarmed. 

Sally Cutler, Professor of Medical Microbiology, University of East London said there was not enough evidence to warrant people attempting to isolate from their animals. 

"Pets can be a source of comfort for humans especially when unwell," she said, adding that it had not yet been demonstrated whether pets could be a source of human infection. 

Domestic cats and dogs from Europe to the US have tested positive for the virus during the pandemic, while in April New York's Bronx Zoo said a tiger had caught the virus, probably from an asymptomatic caretaker.

The World Health Organization has said it was unclear whether infected animals pose a risk to humans. 

Outbreaks in farms of ferret-like mink, however, have raised concerns of transmission to humans.  

At least two farm workers in the Netherlands were found to be infected with Covid-19 in May, most likely by the mink, with the WHO saying they could be the "first known cases of animal-to-human transmission".

CAT DOG NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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October 20, 2020 - 3:04pm

A number of European countries took urgent new measures on Monday to combat a second wave of coronavirus infections, as the World Health Organization blamed the surge in worldwide cases — now more than 40 million — on countries' failure to quarantine infected people properly.

Ireland and Wales became the first countries on the continent to re-enter lockdown as the number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Europe passed 250,000, according to an AFP tally.

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin issued a nationwide "stay at home" order from midnight Wednesday, with all non-essential retail businesses to close and bars and restaurants limited to takeaway service only, although schools will remain open. — AFP

October 20, 2020 - 7:29am

Canada, in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19 illnesses, topped 200,000 cases and inched closer to 10,000 deaths Monday, according to official data compiled by Canadian broadcasters CBC and CTV.

About 80% of these cases and more than 90% of the deaths were recorded in the country's two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, which has been the epicenter of the country's epidemic since it broke out in Canada last March.

As of Monday afternoon, Canada had 200,039 cases and 9,772 dead — with its two westernmost provinces still to report their updated tallies — according to the public health data.

That amounts to 532 cases per 100,000 people in the country of 38 million, or five times fewer than in the United States. — AFP

October 19, 2020 - 10:37pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,114,836 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 11:00 GMT Monday.

At least 40,064,580 cases of coronavirus have been registered, of whom at least 27,549,400 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases. — AFP

October 19, 2020 - 8:30pm

South Africa's Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said he has tested positive for COVID-19 just two days after the country's diagnosed cases topped 700,000.

The 64-year-old minister is the fifth member of the government to contract the virus after his colleagues in the ministries of defence, labour, trade and mineral resources.

"I wish to inform the public that this afternoon my wife, Dr May Mkhize, and I have tested positive for COVID-19," said Mkhize is a statement late Sunday. — AFP

October 19, 2020 - 3:44pm

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide passed 40 million on Monday, according to an AFP tally at 0715 GMT based on official sources.

A total of 40,000,234 infections and 1,113,896 deaths have been recorded across the globe. More than half the global caseload has come in the three hardest-hit countries: the United States with 8,154,935 infections, India with 7,550,273 and Brazil 5,235,344.

In just the last seven days more than that 2.5 million cases have been reported, the highest weekly number since COVID-19 emerged in China late last year.

The increase can only partly be explained by a sharp increase in testing and still likely does not include a large number of less severe or asymptomatic cases. — AFP

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