COVID-19 Delta variant confirmed in domestic cat in Pennsylvania
COVID-19 Delta variant confirmed in domestic cat in Pennsylvania

COVID-19 Delta variant confirmed in domestic cat in Pennsylvania

Researchers obtained an entire genome sequence of the virus that infected a domestic cat in Pennsylvania, and found that it was the Delta variant. Photo by bogitw / Pixabay

A cat in Pennsylvania that turned out to be infected with Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus is the first known case of the variant occurring in a domestic animal in the United States.

Helgenom sequencing also revealed that the variant was almost identical to those circulating in humans in the area at the time, according to the University of Pennsylvania team that made the discovery.

The 11-year-old female cat was taken to the University’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia in September with gastrointestinal symptoms. The owner had COVID-19 and had isolated himself from the cat for 11 days before being brought to the hospital. Another member of the household had cared for the cat.

The researchers obtained an entire genome sequence of the cat’s virus and found that it was the Delta variant. They did not have a sample of the virus from the owner, but the cat’s virus was a close match with those circulating in people in the Philadelphia region at the time.

“When we looked at a random sampling of human sequences from our geographic area, there was nothing dramatically different about our cat’s sample,” said senior author of the study, Dr. Elizabeth Lennon, a veterinarian and assistant professor at UPenn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“So our takeaway was that the cat was not infected by a virus that was somehow very different,” she said in a press release from the university.

The study was recently published in the journal Virus.

Since the onset of the pandemic, coronavirus has infected a number of wild and domestic species, leading to concerns that jumps between species could lead to new mutations and harmful new varieties.

SARS-CoV-2 has a really incredibly wide host range, “said Lennon.” It means to me that since SARS-CoV-2 continues to be widespread in the human population, we also need to see what happens in other animal species. “

Lennon noted that the cat’s infection was only identified by testing its feces. A nasal swab did not reveal the infection.

“This highlighted the importance of sampling at multiple body sites,” Lennon said. “We would not have discovered this if we had just made a nose graft.”

More information

For more on COVID-19 and pets, see US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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