An Arizona man who contracted COVID-19 earlier this year is believed to have spread the virus to his two pets in the first-ever documented case of human-to-pet transmission in the U.S.
The unnamed man, who is 28 years old and unvaccinated, developed symptoms of Covid on March 6, and tested positive for the virus.
Ten days later, his dog and cat also tested positive for Covid.
It is the first case of pets catching COVID-19 from humans, and gives experts another look at how the virus that has taken over the world may be spreading.
A man in Arizona is believed to have transmitted COVID-19 to his can and his dog in what is the first documented transmission of the virus from a person to their pet (file image)
Animals can contract Covid, but are very likely to have an asymptomatic case. Cats to suffer a slight increased risk from the virus when compared to dogs, though (file image)
‘There’s been a lot of evidence over the past 18-plus months that animals are susceptible to getting the virus,’ Dr Hayley Yaglom, an epidemiologist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff, Arizona, and lead researcher of the study, told DailyMail.com.
‘They don’t always become symptomatic, but they certainly can be exposed and get infected with with COVID-19.
Researchers, who published their findings in One Health in September, found that the man was infected with a specific, uncommon strain of the virus.
Soon after, his pets tested positive with the same strain, and because neither spend too much time outdoors, the only way they could have contracted it would be through their owner.
Because the man showed symptoms first – and the limited interactions the pets have with others outside of the household – the team determined he transmitted the virus to the pets, and not the other way around.
The researchers were unable to determine which animal contracted the virus first, or if either transmitted it to each other.
They report that the cat and dog are ‘buddies’ and share a lot of close contact with one another, though.
Both animals had an asymptomatic case of the virus.
While this is the first case researchers can be confirm in the U.S., they have believed for some time that transmission of the virus from humans to pets is possible.
‘It was definitely something that we hypothesized based on the growing amount of evidence,’ Yaglom said.
Other researchers, according to Yaglom, have found some evidence that this type of transmission is possible, but have not been able to pin-point a specific occurrence of it happening.
While the virus transmitting from animals to humans is certainly within the realm of possibility, Yaglom said she is not aware of any examples of a domesticated animal spreading the virus to a human.
Animals that live in a home with a person are not very likely to catch Covid on their own because they often only interact with members of the household on a regular basis.
Her team is continuing to research inter-species Covid spread, though.
While Covid can pose a grave threat to humans, killing more than five million people worldwide, animals do not face the same level of risk.
‘Overall, it does not seem like dogs and cats, at least domestic dogs and cats living at home are as great of a risk of developing severe illnesses… or death as compared to people,’ Yaglom said.
Many animals, like the two found in Arizona, are also asymptomatic when they do contract the virus.
Cats are more likely to suffer a severe case of Covid than dogs, though the risk of either are still very low.
The first case of a confirmed human to pet transmission occurred in South Korea, when a family of cats that lived in a school were found to have contracted the virus.
In the U.K a cat had to be euthanized due to complications from Covid after contracting the virus from their owner.
Still, Covid-positive people may want to take some precautions to protect their pet.
A person with the virus should avoid snuggling or sleeping with their animal while they are infected, especially if they are symptomatic.
They should also frequently wash their hands and make sure to wear a mask around their pet.
The most important recommendation the researchers had was to get vaccinated, as preventing oneself from getting the virus could preclude any chance to transmit it to a pet.