Advertisement

COVID-19 Delta variant confirmed in house cat in Pennsylvania

By HealthDay News
Researchers obtained a whole genome sequence of the virus infecting a house cat in Pennsylvania and found it was the Delta variant. Photo by bogitw/Pixabay
Researchers obtained a whole genome sequence of the virus infecting a house cat in Pennsylvania and found it was the Delta variant. Photo by bogitw/Pixabay

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

Whole-genome sequencing also revealed that the variant was nearly identical to those circulating in people in the area at the time, according to the University of Pennsylvania team that made the discovery.

Advertisement

The 11-year-old female cat was brought to the university's Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia in September with gastrointestinal symptoms. The owner had COVID-19 and had been isolating from the cat for 11 days before it was brought to the hospital. Another member of the household had been looking after the cat.

The researchers obtained a whole genome sequence of the cat's virus and found 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 to those circulating in people in the Philadelphia region at the time.

RELATED Study confirms multiple COVID-19 variants in deer in Ohio

"When we looked at a random sampling of human sequences from our geographic area, there wasn't anything dramatically different about our cat's sample," said study senior author Dr. Elizabeth Lennon, a veterinarian and assistant professor at UPenn's School of Veterinary Medicine.

Advertisement

"So, our takeaway was that the cat was not infected by a virus that was somehow highly different," she said in a university news release.

The study was published recently in the journal Viruses.

RELATED Dogs are unsung heroes of COVID-19 pandemic for many, experts say

Since the start of the pandemic, the coronavirus has infected a range of wild and domestic animal species, leading to concerns that jumps between species could lead to new mutations and harmful new variants.

"SARS-CoV-2 has a really incredibly wide host range," Lennon said. "What this means to me is that, as SARS-CoV-2 continues to be prevalent in the human population, we need to watch what's happening in other animal species as well."

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

RELATED Drug blocks immune reactions that lead to COVID-19 lung damage, study finds

"This did highlight the importance of sampling at multiple body sites," Lennon said. "We wouldn't have detected this if we had just done a nasal swab."

More information

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

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement