First, the coronavirus hopped from animal to human. Now, it seems humans can unwittingly return the favour. In the UK, a pet cat has contracted the virus from its owners, laboratory tests confirmed last week, the first such case in this country. However, a public health expert has said there is no cause for concern. While this was an instance of human-to-animal transmission, currently, it is believed there is no evidence that household pets could transmit the disease to humans. Good handwashing is still the best way at hand to keep the virus at bay and this applies even when it comes to handling pets, both before and after. The cat in question was initially thought to have a respiratory infection but was also tested for Covid-19 for research.
There have been other such confirmed cases in pets in Europe, North America and Asia. In April, a cat belonging to a family in Catalonia, Spain, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus after it died but is considered to have succumbed to a co-morbidity. The cat was the sixth feline to be detected with the disease globally, according to Reuters. The World Health Organisation has said all available evidence suggests the novel coronavirus originated in animals but it is not yet clear how the virus jumped the species barrier from an intermediate animal host, most likely a bat, to humans. According to a study in China, ferrets were most susceptible to catching and passing the virus along to other ferrets. Cats were slightly less susceptible while dogs barely so; pigs, ducks, and chickens were not susceptible at all.