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Coronavirus infections possible in pets
For a long time it was considered unlikely, but it is now clear that pets can also become infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Symptoms in cats are similar to those in humans. Corona infections in animals kept should be reported.
The University of Leipzig has announced in a recent announcement that pets can also become infected with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. There are now several examples of this worldwide. However, the number of cases is very small and only dogs, cats, mink and ferrets have been affected according to previous knowledge. In Germany, there should be a reporting requirement for corona infections in animals.
Animals can become infected among themselves
According to Prof. Dr. Thomas Vahlenkamp, director of the Institute of Virology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Leipzig, had been experimentally infected among other things, dogs and cats. While dogs showed no symptoms, cats - like infected people - would have respiratory problems and some diarrhea.
"The corona virus appears to be able to multiply in cats," says Vahlenkamp. Mink farms have had similar experiences in the Netherlands and Denmark, where the animals have shown respiratory problems and some have died from them. "Infections are possible, but occur very rarely, and they have always been linked to a human case," explains the expert.
So if dog or cat owners are infected with the new corona virus, there is also a risk of infection for their pets. However, no case is known worldwide in which, conversely, an infected animal has infected a person. If you have several dogs and cats, you should know that the animals can also infect each other.
"But this should not lead to uncertainty among dog and cat owners," said Vahlenkamp. The number of known cases is extremely small. For example, there were only a few such infections in France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, China and the United States.
Tigers have also become infected at the zoo in New York - possibly among visitors or zookeepers. Researchers at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China then carried out the experimental investigations.
Infected animals must be reported
If dog and cat owners want to be on the safe side, they can have their animal tested for COVID-19, but have to finance the test themselves. The Institute of Virology at the University of Leipzig also offers such tests.
Pets that have tested positive for COVID-19 will have to be reported to the authorities in the future. The Federal Government points this out on its website. According to the information, research should gain knowledge about the occurrence, transmission and spread of the virus.
"But I would like to emphasize clearly: There is no obligation for pet owners to have their animals tested! This only makes sense if the animal shows clinical symptoms, ”said Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner. The notification can be made to veterinary authorities, health authorities or veterinarians. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- University of Leipzig: Virologist: Pets can get infected with coronavirus, (accessed: July 13, 2020), University of Leipzig
- Federal government: Obligation to report corona infections of pets, (accessed: July 13, 2020), federal government