COVID-19 infection is common in domestic cats and dogs whose owners suffer from it, according to a study cited by the BBC.
Specialists examined samples from 310 pets from households where the infection was registered in humans.
Six cats and seven dogs tested positive on PCR, and 54 animals tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus.
“If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your dog or cat, just as you limit your contact with other people,” said Dr. Els Bruns of the University of Utrecht.
“The main concern is not so much the animal’s health as the potential risk that pets could become a reservoir for the virus and transmit it to humans,” she said.
The study’s authors say no transmission of the infection from a pet to a human has been documented so far, but that would be difficult to detect as long as the virus spreads easily among humans. Most infected pets pass the infection without symptoms or show very slight signs of the disease.
Another study conducted by the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, found that cats that slept in their owners’ beds were at high risk of contracting the new coronavirus.
48 cats and 54 dogs from 77 households were tested for antibodies, and their owners provided information about their contact with pets. About 67 percent of the cats and 43 percent of the dogs tested positive, compared to 9 percent of the dogs and cats from the animal shelter and 3 percent of the stray cats in the area.
A quarter of pets have symptoms of infection, from loss of appetite to difficulty breathing.
Professor James Wood, who heads the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University, said the results of both studies complemented previous evidence that a significant proportion of pets could be infected with the new coronavirus by their owners.
“A study from the Netherlands shows that about 20 percent of pets exposed to the virus can be infected and that they get the infection just like most people do,” he said.