A group of researchers claims that domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, can also be infected by coronaviruses, although they are studying whether the British variant (B.1.1.7) can infect some animals more easily.

In the study presented by the journal ‘bioRvix’, the first cases of animals (dogs and cats) infected by the British variant of the COVID-19 virus were reported. The animals presented severe cardiac abnormalities or myocarditis. The owners of the animals had also tested positive in the PCR test.

The researchers note that given the increased transmissibility of the British variant to humans, these studies “highlight more than ever the risk that companion animals may play a greater role in the dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak than previously thought.”

The journal ‘Science’ has published a study on coronavirus infection in animals conducted on eight cats and three dogs. They state that none had a history of heart disease, but tests concluded that the animals suffered from cardiac abnormalities, including irregular heartbeats and fluid in the lungs, symptoms that have also been observed in cases of people who have had coronaviruses.

The scientists tested seven of the animals for COVID-19, and three of them tested positive for the British variant. Antibodies were also recorded in four of the other animals, showing that two of them had been infected with coronavirus.

Another study conducted in Italy by the Animal Health Research Institute of Piedmont, Liguria and Valle d’Aosta also reported a case of a cat infected with coronavirus with the British variant. The animal had respiratory symptoms 10 days after its caretakers tested positive.

In the United States there has also been a similar case, reported last March 15, in which a dog and a cat living in the same house tested positive for the British variant of the coronavirus.

And what to do with animals during the pandemic?

For example, disinfect the animal’s food bowls and utensils if the owner or someone living with the animal has COVID-19. It is also advisable – if you have coronavirus – to avoid contact with the animal as much as possible.

The Italian health and veterinary authorities have also offered a series of recommendations on the evidence of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus among animals such as rabbits, dogs, cats and mink. And they have sent a message of reassurance saying that domestic animals can be infected as well as wild animals.

To this end, they have recommended that precautions should be taken if the animal does not live in the same household. And in case the owner is positive, avoid contact with the animal.

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