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During the current Covid-19 pandemic, naturally occurring SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in domestic cats, non-domestic cats and dogs.1 In vivo experiments have shown that some animals including cats, ferrets and hamsters are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection,2, 3 whereas other species such as ducks, chickens and pigs don’t appear to be susceptible.2
At present, there is no evidence that cats, dogs or other domestic animals play any role in the epidemiology of human infections with SARS-CoV-2.4 Furthermore, the significance of SARS-CoV-2 as a feline or canine pathogen is unknown, as cats and dogs with reported infections have apparently recovered and there has been little evidence of transmission occurring between cats or dogs in the field.
The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research has dedicated its resources to researching the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of this effort, we intend to investigate natural SARS-CoV-2 infections in domestic cats and dogs. If we identify naturally infected animals, we will analyse the full genome sequences of the viruses we isolate, which will allow us, in time, to determine whether viruses found in cats and dogs represent spillover infections from humans.
We are seeking the assistance of colleagues in practice to provide respiratory and/or faecal samples where they have a clinical suspicion of SARS-CoV-2 infection
We are seeking the assistance of colleagues in practice to provide respiratory and/or faecal samples where they have a clinical suspicion of SARS-CoV-2 infection. These may be companion animals with known recent exposure to the virus, showing respiratory clinical signs either with or without gastrointestinal involvement, where other causes of disease have been excluded.
This project aligns with the recently published APHA guidance on diagnostic testing of companion animals for SARS-CoV-2.5 We are working in partnership with the Veterinary Diagnostic Services at the University of Glasgow, which specialises in the detection of respiratory pathogens from cat and dog samples from across the UK. Samples submitted to the diagnostic service will be screened for the presence of the virus.
We would be grateful if clinicians could identify on their submission forms those samples that fulfil these criteria; there is no charge for SARS-CoV-2 testing at this time. The UK testing capacity for human cases will not be adversely affected by this study.
Results will be reported to the submitting veterinary surgeon as soon as they are available. In the event of a positive result, the submitting vet will assume certain responsibilities and should notify the APHA, as detailed in its guidance notes.5
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