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Covid horror as estimated over 350,000 cats infected with virus which 'can be fatal'

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Over 350,000 British cats caught coronavirus over the course of the pandemic, according to a study. Although it has been previously shown that cats can catch the virus, the level of infection amongst domesticated felines has not been calculated until now.

Virologists and veterinarians at the University of Glasgow analysed swabs taken from 2,309 cats that were taken to vets between April 2020 and February 2022 for routine check-ups.

The samples came from across the UK and were “broadly representative of the domestic cat population”, according to scientists in a paper that hasn’t yet been peer reviewed.

It was discovered that 3.2 percent of all the samples were positive for coronavirus antibodies.

Scientists found that the highest level of infection occured at the end of 2021 and the start of 2022 with one in 20 cats testing positive.

It is believed that there are around 11 million pet cats in the UK, according to the Cats Protection 2022 report.

This would mean at the peak of feline infections roughly 352,000 cats had the virus.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph Grace Tyson, a PhD student at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research said that the figures in the study were likely to be an underestimate.

She said: “We looked at over 2,000 samples, and we are confident in saying that over three percent of the UK’s cat population has been exposed to Covid and mounted a neutralising response, and this has been increasing.

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The cat had caught the virus after sleeping on it’s owners bed and made a full recovery along with both the human patients.

According to experts, cats don’t shed much virus as they are only infectious for a couple of days, which makes it harder for them to infect anyone.

Ms Tyson also raised concerns about the lack of scientific knowledge in relation to cats and the virus including fears that it could badly affect their health and that the animals could be reservoirs of disease when new variants may emerge.

She said: “This could have implications for feline health – the actual pathology of Covid in cats is not as well characterised as in humans but we know of some quite severe cases of fever and respiratory illness in cats as well as some complications such as cardiac problems.

“In some cases, these clinical manifestations can be fatal or lead to euthanasia of the cat. We do not yet know the long-term effects of Covid in cats.

“There was a recent case in Thailand of a cat sneezing on its vet and infecting them, confirming cat-to-human transmission, and cat-to-cat transmission has also been observed experimentally so there is a concern that cats may become a reservoir for the disease, particularly since they are in such close contact with humans as pets.

“The selective pressure on the virus that comes from zoonotic jumps may cause viral mutations to occur. This is part of the reason why we believe SARS-CoV-2 research at the human-animal interface is so vital.”



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