I keep saying I’m going to stop talking about sporadic new SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals unless there’s something noteworthy. I’ll mention some recent cases in a dog and some cats in the Netherlands because I think there are some unique aspects that fit that bill.
This infected dog was euthanized on account of severe respiratory disease. So far, it has appeared that dogs don’t get sick if they are infected with SARS-CoV-2. Disease of any sort, let alone fatal disease, would therefore be noteworthy in a dog. One report said “The American bulldog’s blood tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, but the dog had tested negative for an active case of Covid-19.” I assume that means it was PCR negative, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t infected. They added “It was thus unclear if the dog’s worsening condition was as a result of the infection, or due to other health issues.” Hopefully more testing is being performed to see if there were other problems that could have accounted for severe disease or whether SARS-CoV-2 might have been the cause.
During our national working group discussions of the outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 on Dutch mink farms (now 5 affected farms), the question of whether there were other animals like barn cats on the properties was raised. The answer to that is apparently “yes.”
Three of 11 tested cats on the farms had antibodies against the virus, indicating they had been infected. That leads to questions about how they were exposed. Investigating that involves interviewing farm staff to see how much human contact they had, to get some idea whether contact with infected people or indirect contact with infected mink (e.g. droplets/aerosols from being in the affected barns, contact with potentially virus-contaminated manure) was the likely source. This highlights the importance of preventing exposure of other animals and containing exposed/infected animals. We want to keep this virus confined to humans as much as possible, and not create opportunities for animals to pass it back to people or for animals to spread the virus to other domestic animals or wildlife.