Things have been relatively quiet on the animal/COVID front for the past week or so (and that’s good). We’ll likely continue to see sporadic cases in pets that get infected from their owners. Hopefully, all of those cases will stop with the pet and there will be no further transmission to other people or animals (including wildlife and community cats, which would perhaps be the most conerning).
I suspect the next big wave of information regarding SARS-CoV-2 in companion animals will be when serological (antibody) testing starts to give us an idea of how often human-to-pet transmission has occurred over the course of the pandemic. Most of the limited testing to date has focused on testing samples from animals for the virus itself, which lets us know if the subject is actively infected. Unfortunately, that type of testing is hampered by the fact that we have to identify actively infected households and then find a way to collect samples during the fairly short window when the pet might be infected, so we’re going to underestimate transmission that way. Combining those kinds of studies with antibody testing is important, as serology can be done more easily after-the-fact because the antibodies remain in the bloodstream much longer than the virus itself hangs around in an individual.
More about mink and SARS-CoV-2
This virus seems to really like mink. In addition to outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 on multiple Dutch mink farms, SARS-CoV-2 has now been identified on a mink farm in Denmark as well. These outbreaks all appear to start off with mink getting infected by people, but the mink can then spread it amongst themselves and in rare instances even spread the virus back to people. The fact that stray cats on mink farms have been infected as well is concerning, and is yet another reason we want to prevent that initial human-to-animal transmission. We want to keep this a strictly human issue, so that it’s easier to control.
It seems like I’ve spent a lot of my time over the last few months doing webinars, which I guess is not surprising since I’ve actually done a large number them. I did one earlier with week for MightyVet alongside Dr. Mike Lappin (a great veterinary infectious disease veterinarian from Colorado) and Dr. Chris Woods (an MD from Duke who’s a leader in the “human” side of one health). It’s had 130,000 views so far so hopefully that means it’s useful. Click the following link to access the webinar on the MightyVet Facebook page: “Ask an Expert: Confronting COVID-19 myths“.