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First suspected case of cat to human Covid transmission documented

XBB.1.5 the most transmissible Covid
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According to the first documented case of suspected cat-to-human transmission, a 32-year-old previously healthy female veterinarian contracted Covid after being exposed to an infected cat.

In August of last year, researchers from Thailand’s Prince of Songkla University reported the case of a veterinarian who was diagnosed with Covid after being sneezed on by a cat owned by an infected patient.

They wrote in a paper published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that a genetic study supported the hypothesis of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from the owner to the cat, and then from the cat to the veterinarian.

The vet revealed that she and other veterinarians had examined a cat belonging to two men who were also Covid positive 5 days prior. The cat shared the same bed as the infected men.

The cat was found to be normal after an initial examination. However, during the nasal test, which later revealed the cat to be Covid positive, the feline sneezed in the patient’s face. Three days later, the patient developed virus symptoms and tested positive.

“The identical SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences obtained from the patient and the sequences derived from the cat and its two owners, together with the temporal overlapping of the animal and human infections, indicated that their infections were epidemiologically related,” wrote Sarunyou Chusri and her team from the University’s Faculty of Medicine.

“Because the vet had no prior meetings with the cat owners, she probably acquired SARS-CoV-2 from the cat when it sneezed in her face,” they added.

The findings show that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted from cats to humans.

Experts emphasise, however, that the risk of cats infecting humans with the virus remains low overall.

According to the New York Times, people are far more likely to infect cats with the virus.

“When things become human diseases, we too often forget everything else,” Dr. Scott Weese, an infectious diseases veterinarian at the University of Guelph in Ontario was quoted as saying.

“I think it’s important for us to recognise this virus still can move between species,” Weese added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States advises people infected with the virus to avoid contact with their pets.

“If you’re trying to stay away from people because you’re potentially infectious, just try to stay away from animals at the same time,” Weese said.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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