At first it just seemed like one more sad thing to cope with during this time of COVID-19 — then, last week, I got a call from virologist David Sanders of Purdue University. He wanted to tell me about a new paper showing COVID-19 infections in cats. He said it looked like high-quality work, and it could have important implications for the spread of the virus. That means scientists will need to start doing epidemiological studies on other species to understand and control this virus.They set out to investigate with an experiment, the results of which have recently been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. They infected three cats with COVID-19 and paired each with a virus-free cat. For example, Goldberg recently published a preprint paper warning that great apes have the same cell receptor we do that allows the virus into our cells. Similarly, early on COVID-19 was associated with an armadillo-like animal called a pangolin, but Goldberg says pangolins did not give us this disease. While there’s clearly a lot of uncertainty here, Halfmann said I wasn’t crazy to worry that my cat died from COVID-19, and that it would be possible to pick it up at a veterinary clinic. He says it might be smart to keep cats indoors, and for veterinarians to take precautions to protect their patients from spreading the virus to each other.
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