Genetic virus testing suggests transmission of COVID-19 to domestic pets

Transmission of COVID-19 from a pet owner to a pet has been documented genetically for the first time in the United States, according to a study published in One Health by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a subsidiary of City of Hope.

Researchers involved with the Arizona case study found that a pet parent and two pets were all infected with the identical strain of coronavirus known as B.1.575, an early version of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the authors said. in a press release.

This study is one of five nationwide pilot studies investigating COVID infections in animals. The edition stated that the study is the only one using an entire genome sequence, a laboratory method that looks at the genetic makeup, of the virus from samples of humans and pets.

“This is the first report of the B.1.575 lineage in companion animals. Genetically linking SARS-CoV-2 between humans and animals, and tracking changes in SARS-CoV-2 genomes is essential to detect any transspecies SARS-CoV-2 .2 transmission that can lead to more transmissible or severe variants that can affect humans, ”the authors wrote.

Genetic samples were collected from swabs of cat and dog and their owner. The genetic makeup of the detected virus was found to match identically, suggesting zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from a human to at least one pet, according to the report. The study authors said both animals were asymptomatic but were in close contact with the symptomatic pet, which tested positive for COVID-19.

FILE - In this file photo from April 1, 2017, a service dog named Orlando rests on the foot of his trainer, John Reddan, of Warwick, NY, sitting on a United Airlines plane at Newark International Freedom Airport during training exercise in Newark, NJ American Airlines bans emotional support animals on the move, which will force most owners to pay extra if they want their pets to travel with them.  The airline said on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 that it will allow animals for free in the cabin only if they are trained service dogs.  The change takes effect on Monday, although passengers who have already purchased tickets can fly with a companion until February 1st.  (AP Photo / Julio Cortez, File)

FILE – In this file photo from April 1, 2017, a service dog named Orlando rests on the foot of his trainer, John Reddan, of Warwick, NY, sitting on a United Airlines plane at Newark International Freedom Airport during training exercise in Newark, NJ American Airlines bans emotional support animals on the move, which will force most owners to pay extra if they want their pets to travel with them. The airline said on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 that it will allow animals for free in the cabin only if they are trained service dogs. The change takes effect on Monday, although passengers who have already purchased tickets can fly with a companion until February 1st. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez, File)

Happy time with pet.

Happy time with pet.
(iStock)

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According to the article, the owner was in close contact with both pets engaging in activities such as petting and petting the animals, walking the dog and cleaning the cat’s litter, showing symptoms of COVID19. The dog and cat often sat on the owner’s knees, slept in the same bed and during the home visit, researchers observed that the cat and dog remained in close contact with each other, the authors noted in the report.

“This case study was the first example we had of the project that demonstrated the likelihood of transmission of a virus from a pet owner to animals in the household,” Hayley Yaglom, lead author of the study and TGen Epidemiologist stated in the release .

The researchers stated that there is no current evidence that companion animals play a role in spreading COVID 19 to humans. However, they stated that there were reports of coronavirus being transmitted from infected humans to animals.

The TGEN case study showed that although there are limited studies that have compared viral genome data from pets with owners, this report provides genetic evidence of virus transmission from the infected pet owner to pets, identified by total gene sequencing.

“This is a great example of using genomics to gain intelligence on pathogens,” David Engelthaler, Ph.D., director of TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division in the news release. He added, “This study shows that we can not only use genomics to help track COVID variants worldwide, but we can also use this technology to track accurate transmissions, and in this case transmission from pets to pets. “

Dr. Robin Sturtz, a veterinarian and Director of Veterinary Technology at Long Island University Post in New York City, was not part of the study, but commented to Fox News that based on contact tracking it was reported that humans can transmit the virus to a mate. animals on a very rare occasion.

The study was led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The study was led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Veterinary Medicine.
(iStock)

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Sturtz tells Fox News, “It’s encouraging to see that the COVID-19 transmission study is formalized and categorized according to genetic identity. So far, there are only two animals in the study, so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. ” Sturtz also recommended, “Vaccinated people protect their pets, as well as keep your distance from them if you’re sick.”

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A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave a statement to Fox News, which said, “These findings are unsurprising because most cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals, including pets, occurred after contact. with a person with COVID-19. This pandemic is caused primarily by person-to-person spread. CDC continues to recommend that pets with COVID-19 avoid contact with pets to protect pets from infection. “

Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is an Arizona-based nonprofit organization dedicated to research and affiliated with City of Hope, an independent research and medical center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.

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