Study finds Alpha COVID-19 variant in pets
UK: In a first such development, cases of the Alpha variant of Sars-CoV-2, the virus which causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), have been detected in pets, with two cats and a dog returning a positive PCR test result. However, the team which conducted the study also clarified that Covid-19 in pets remained ‘relatively rare,’ with the transmission taking place from humans to pets, rather than the other way round.
Speaking on the research, Dr Luca Ferasin, its lead author from the UK-based Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre, said that the exercise highlighted the growing risk of domestic animals getting infected with Sars-CoV-2. “Our study reports the first cases of cats and dogs affected by the Alpha Covid-19 variant. We also reported the atypical clinical manifestations characterised by severe heart abnormalities, which is a well-recognised complication in people affected by COVID-19, but has never been found in pets before,” Dr Ferasin said.
In addition to the two cats and the dog, two other cats and a dog displayed antibodies two to six weeks after developing signs of cardiac disease. All the pets had an acute onset of cardiac disease, including severe myocarditis, which causes the inflammation of the heart muscle. Additionally, owners of these pets developed respiratory symptoms several weeks before the animals, too, fell ill. Besides this, they tested positive for Covid-19 as well.
The Alpha variant, denoted by the lineage B.1.1.7, is one of the several variants of concern of Sars-CoV-2. It was given the name ‘Alpha’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 31 this year. The variant was first detected in November last year in southeast England, from a sample taken in September that year. It has an increased transmissibility and infectivity. – HINDUSTAN TIMES