Research on SARS-CoV-2 in cats and dogs in Dutch households
More than half of Dutch households has one or more pets. An estimated fifty percent of those pets is allowed to enter the bedroom. "Contact between people and their pets is often intensive and could therefore result in transmission of pathogens", says microbiologist Els Broens. Incidental cases have shown that COVID-19 positive owners can transmit the virus to their dog or cat. Therefore, the presence of the virus and antibodies against the virus in dogs and cats is investigated in COVID-19 positive households as well as households with no COVID-19 association.
Contact between people and their pets is often intensive and could therefore result in transmission of pathogens
What does the research involve?
In collaboration with several projects and organisations within the human field, the researchers collected households that own cats and/or dogs ànd have been tested positive for COVID-19. The aim of this part of the project is to estimate the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in cats and dogs in Dutch households. Therefore, the researchers also tested cats and dogs from households with no COVID-19 association. Participating veterinary clinics collected the necessary samples from these animals.
We want to know if other factors play a role, besides the presence of infected people within the household
If an animal was indeed infected, it is interesting to see what risk factors for infection can be identified. Environmental epidemiologist Lidwien Smit: “We want to know if other factors play a role, besides the presence of infected people within the household.”
The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University is responsible for this study. Els Broens is leading this investigation.
Mobile veterinary clinic
Since COVID-19 positive owners were not able to bring their pet to the veterinary clinic, veterinarians of Utrecht University took the samples during a home visit. In order to do this safely, they used the mobile veterinary clinic of Stichting Zwerfkatten Nederland, an interest group for ferel cat organisations in the Netherlands.