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An Arizona man who contracted COVID-19 earlier this year is believed to have spread the virus to his two pets in the first documented case of human-to-pet transmission.
The nameless 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, who live in the same house with him, also tested positive for Covid.
It’s the first time pets have contracted COVID-19 from humans, and it gives experts another look at how the virus that has taken over the world may spread.
The first documented transmission of the virus from a person to their pet in Arizona is believed to have transmitted COVID-19 to his can and dog (file image)
Animals can become infected with Covid, but they are very likely to have an asymptomatic case. However, cats are at a slightly increased risk from the virus compared to dogs (file image)
“For the past 18 months or more there has been a lot of evidence that animals are susceptible to the virus,” said Dr. Hayley Yaglom, an epidemiologist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff, Ariz. And lead researcher on the study, told DailyMail.com.
“They don’t always become symptomatic, but they can certainly be exposed and become infected with COVID-19.
Researchers, who published their results in One Health in September, found that the man was infected with a certain, unusual strain of the virus.
Soon after, his pets tested positive with the same strain, and since no one was spending too much time outdoors, the only way they could have become infected was through their owner.
Because the man showed symptoms first – and the pets’ limited interactions with others outside the household – the team determined that he had transmitted the virus to the pets, rather than the other way around.
The researchers could not determine which animal became infected with the virus first or whether it was mutually transmitted.
They report that cats and dogs are “friends” and have a lot of close contact with each other.
Both animals had an asymptomatic case of the virus.
While this is the first case that researchers have been able to confirm, for some time they have believed that the virus can be transmitted from humans to pets.
“It was definitely something we suspected from the growing amount of evidence,” said Yaglom.
Other researchers, Yaglom said, have found some evidence that this type of transmission is possible, but they haven’t been able to pinpoint a specific event.
While transmission of the virus from animals to humans is certainly possible, Yaglom said she is not aware of any examples of a domesticated animal transmitting the virus to a human.
Animals that live with a person in a household rarely develop Covid themselves, as they often only interact with household members on a regular basis.
However, her team continues to research the spread of Covid between species.
While Covid can pose a serious threat to humans, killing more than five million people worldwide, animals are not at the same risk.
“Overall, it doesn’t seem like dogs and cats, at least domestic dogs and domestic cats, are as much at risk of developing serious illness or even death as humans,” Yaglom said.
Many animals, like the two found in Arizona, are also asymptomatic when they contract the virus.
Cats are more likely to have severe Covid cases than dogs, although the risk of both is still very small.
Still, Covid-positive people may want to take some precautionary measures to protect their pet.
A person with the virus should avoid cuddling or sleeping with their pet while it is infected, especially if it is symptomatic.
You should also wash their hands frequently and make sure that your pet is wearing a mask.
The researchers’ most important recommendation was to get vaccinated, as transmission of the virus to a pet could be ruled out.