Detection of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 in a cat in Germany

Several non-variant of concern SARS-CoV-2 infections in pets have been reported as documented in the OIE and GISAID databases and there is only one fully documented case of an alpha variant of concern (VOC)(B.1.1.7) in the United States so far. Here, we describe the first case in a cat infected with the alpha SARS-CoV-2 variant) in Germany. A cat suffering from pneumonia was presented to a veterinary practice. The pneumonia was treated symptomatically, but 16 days later the cat was presented again. Since the owner had been tested positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the meantime, swab samples were taken from the cat and analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 specific nucleic acids. The various RT-qPCR analyses and whole-genome sequencing revealed the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant in this cat. This study shows that pets living in close contact with SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 infected owners can contract this virus and also suffer from a respiratory disease. It is not clear yet whether onward transmissions to other cats and humans can occur. To minimize transmission risks, pet owners and veterinarians should comply to the hygienic rules published by OIE and others. It must be stated, that infections of cats with SARS-CoV-2 is still a rare event. Cats with clinical signs of a respiratory disease should be presented to a veterinarian, who will decide on further steps.



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