Texas A&M researchers discover UK variant of COVID-19 in Brazos County canine and cat

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) – Researchers from the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedicine at Texas A&M have confirmed that a cat and dog living in the same house have contracted the UK variant of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 21,000 confirmed cases of the British variant in humans nationwide, with Texas reporting hundreds of cases.

“The most recent finding is that we tested positive in both a dog and a cat in Brazos County. When we sequenced the genome of the variant, it was variant B.1.1.7 UK,” said Sarah Hamer, associate professor at TAMU .

TAMU researchers like Hamer have been working since last summer to find out how the COVID-19 virus is affecting our pets and identify the first cat in Texas to test positive for the virus.

All of the animals enrolled in their program to date live in Brazos County and in homes where a human has tested positive for COVID-19.

How can the UK variant of COVID-19 affect our pets? @TAMU has confirmed that a cat and a dog in #Texas have signed the variant. More details at 6:30 am at @ abc13houston

Plus, Lulu is on my live recording and says this is a * very * important story that pet owners got! 🐶 🙂 pic.twitter.com/ZOP16QJ1sh

– Charly Edsitty (@ CharlyABC13) April 14, 2021

About 60 animals were confirmed to have COVID-19, and a quarter of these animals showed mild symptoms such as lack of energy, sneezing, and diarrhea. All infected pets have recovered.

Smears from the pet’s saliva and fur, as well as blood samples, are taken and analyzed in a laboratory. When the virus is discovered, researchers will watch closely how the pet reacts.

“It is certainly noteworthy because it is the first time that the B.1.1.7 variant has been found in the US,” said Hamer.

RELATED: Texas A&M Study Examines COVID-19 and Pets

The cat and dog with the variant initially had no symptoms, but later began to sneeze, according to Hamer. The sneezing has since stopped and her symptoms have been described as mild.

With research showing that pets can contract COVID-19, the advice to pet owners is to protect their animals as they would their human loved ones.

“It makes a lot of sense to isolate yourself from other people, but also from other animals,” said Hamer. “Or wear a mask around them to reduce the risk of it being transmitted back to the animal.”

Contact your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet’s health.

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SEE ALSO: Social distancing applies to pets too, says CDC

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