New detection of coronavirus in cats in France

Our feline friends are also vulnerable to severe coronavirus infection (SARS-CoV-2) due to acute respiratory syndrome, according to new research published on the preprint server bioRxiv *. The researchers diagnosed two cats living in France with mild symptomatic COVID-19 disease. The virus was probably transmitted by its owners.

Previous studies have shown increasing evidence of feline-feline transmission and transmission of human-feline SARS-CoV-2 – but not the other way around. Feline infection with one of the variants of the concern remains unknown, but it is a growing concern for pet owners and non-pets.

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The researchers write:

“This issue will quickly become crucial in the very near future, as the British variant, known to be much more infectious, is currently removing the ancestral variant of SARS-CoV-2 in France, as well as in other countries in Europe. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to implement a One Health approach to address the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic that takes into account infection and viral circulation in pets. ”

First cat

The two cats came from two separate families during France’s second wave of coronaviruses from October 2020 to November 2020. The team collected RNA samples using nasopharyngeal and rectal samples. They use PCR to confirm a diagnosis of coronavirus. One cat underwent serological analysis for specific antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein (protein N) or protein spike.

The first participant was a 5-year-old European cat who was raised in an individual pet home. His only contact with the outside world during the pandemic was its owner. She was vaccinated 3 years ago and had no previous history of medical conditions.

Its owner tested positive for symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and, 10 days later, on October 24, 2020, the cat also started to show symptoms. She showed continuous sneezing with non-purulent nasal secretions; there was no digestive symptoms and other indicative of SARS-CoV-2.

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Five days after presenting the symptoms, the cat had pink mucous membranes, increased heart rate of 175 bpm, increased rectal temperature ranging from 38 ° C to 39 ° C, dehydration, serum urea concentration of 0.49g / le a serum creatinine concentration of 12.7mg / l.

The cat was treated with a doxibactin tablet for 10 days and a daily dose of Meloxoral for 3 days, with a noticeable improvement of 3 days after treatment.

The team evaluated serum from blood samples to look for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after recovery. They found antibodies specific for protein N, the receptor binding domain of the spike protein and the SARS-CoV-2 tri-spike proteins. Due to poor conservation of swab samples, the researchers were unable to perform genomic surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Second cat

The second participant was a 13-year-old European, with a history of chronic rhinitis and living in a house with several pets. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection after the pet owner – who was also positive – reported mild symptoms. Additional tests found retromandibular adenopathy, but without other symptoms.

Similar to the first cat, poor sample storage made it difficult to assess the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The researchers were able to sequence only 5 partial fragments of oropharyngeal swabs. They did not find an 11288-11296 deletion, suggesting that the coronavirus infection was not variant B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1. Although the researchers found no evidence of variants because it was potentially before its emergence, they note that the understanding of the effects of variants on cats is limited. It is not yet known how the variants affect the transmissibility and severity of the disease.

A sequenced fragment had a genetic mutation in the amino acid Q57H. The researchers note that the H57 mutation was found worldwide and was present in about 70% of the sequences analyzed in France from October to December 2020.

The results suggest that their owners probably infected both cats. “Although we cannot definitively rule out infection of cats by an individual outside the home, the information provided by the owners, including exclusive and exclusive contact with their owner for cat 1 and the general deterioration of the condition of all cats of the cat owner 2, strongly suggest a transmission from owners to cats, ”writes the research team.

Important announcement

*bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and therefore should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice / health-related behavior or treated as established information.

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