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New details on infected cat reports

Belgian cat tested positive for CVD

By Ginger Macaulay
Lexington Veterinarian

There is some misinformation about the cat in Belgium.  
The AVMA, our national association, has been keeping us informed   
Here is additional information from the Scientific Committee to the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC).  
We still don't have all the facts about the case.
This is what is known.
Infection of Belgian cat:
Cat became ill one week after the owner returned from Italy; owner had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and cat lived in isolation with the owner after owner's diagnosis.
Dates samples collected in relationship to when clinical signs first appeared in the cat are not known.  The cat did have both transient respiratory and digestive clinical symptoms.
Specifics of the type of tests used (RT-PCR and high-throughput sequencing PCR) were not provided.  It is true that RNA of the virus was found in feces and vomit but was it intact virus or only strands of RNA from the virus.
At present it is not known if samples collected at later dates were negative for viral RNA.
At present it is not known whether attempts were made to isolate the virus to determine if is was truly the COVID-19 virus or some other virus that can produce similar signs in cats.
It is not known whether the viral sequence from cat is similar to that from the owner meaning did the cat test positive for the COVID-19 that was infecting the owner.
The cat improved 9 days after the start of clinical signs.
The cat continues to live with its owner, who remains at home in quarantine.
It has not been possible to do further studies on the cat because of the social distancing restrictions ongoing throughout Belgium.
Conclusions
A clear link between virus excretion and clinical signs cannot be established, in part because other possible causes for the cat's illness were not excluded.
High virus loads suggested by the results of the semi-quantitative PCR are indicative of a real infection though more testing needs to be done on the cat.
Since this cat does not live in a community of cats, we are unable to see if cat to cat viral transmission could occur.
There is still no evidence that companion (primarily referring to dogs and cats) or domestic animals can spread COVID-19, so the AVMA is maintaining its original recommendations regarding caring for animals coming from households with COVID-19, or being cared for by human individuals with COVID-19.  
The recommendations are:
Maintain separation and avoid direct contact with pets and other animals, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food, blankets, dishes, glasses, etc.
Try to make alternative arrangements for caring for your pet should you become ill.
If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are ill, wash your hands before and after you interact with your pet and wear a face mask
Make washing your hands a ritual before and after interacting with your pet even if you don't have the virus.

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