A British Cat Has COVID

Cat was apparently infected by its owners
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2020 12:55 PM CDT
Britain Confirms Its First Animal COVID Infection
Larry, the resident cat at 10 Downing Street, managed to avoid being infected by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

(Newser) – There's no evidence that pets can infect their owners with COVID-19, British authorities say—but they've recorded their first case of infection apparently happening the other way. Authorities say a pet cat believed to have caught the virus from its owners showed mild symptoms, including shortness of breath and a nasal discharge, but has now made a full recovery, the Guardian reports. There's no sign the cat infected any people, or other animals, though Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle says the rare case should be a reminder for people to wash their hands after contact with animals.

There has been a handful of cases in other countries of cats getting the virus—and a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive in April. At Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, researchers say they believe cats and other feline species are susceptible to the virus, but not dogs, bears, pigs, chickens, or ducks, the CBC reports. "It turns out that a single amino acid [in the protein], which is what comprises a receptor, contributes to the susceptibility," says lead researcher Saby Mathavarajah. "That single change, or that single mutation, is what conferred resistance for dogs, for example, but not cats." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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