Zahra Heydarifard, Ardalan Maleki Chegeni, Fatemeh Heydarifard, Bahram Nikmanesh, Vahid Salimi

An overview of SARS‐CoV2 natural infections in companion animals: A systematic review of the current evidence

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

AbstractThis systematic review provides a comprehensive overview of natural SARS‐CoV‐2 infections in companion animals. The findings show that these infections are relatively rare. Among the examined dogs, only 1.32% tested positive for SARS‐CoV‐2, while for cats, the rate was 1.55%. Infections in rabbits and ferrets were even less common, at less than 1%. These results support previous research indicating the infrequency of natural infections in companion animals. The review also includes updated studies that involved various pets, such as cats, dogs, ferrets, and rabbits. The majority of the studies analyzed were primarily concerned with screening pets that visited veterinary clinics, regardless of whether they showed any specific signs of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. Only a limited number of studies investigated infections in animals suspected of being in contact with owners or other animals that had COVID‐19 or were exhibiting symptoms. The most common variant identified among the SARS‐CoV‐2 variants in the reviewed studies was B.1.1.7 (alpha), followed by B.1.617.2 (delta), B.1.526 (Iota), and others. The emergence of these variants raises concerns about their potential for increased transmissibility and virulence, highlighting the importance of ongoing monitoring of SARS‐CoV‐2 infections in both humans and animals. Furthermore, most of the reviewed studies indicated that infected pets either showed no symptoms or experienced mild symptoms. This aligns with previous reports suggesting that animals infected with SARS‐CoV‐2 generally have less severe illness compared to humans. However, it is essential to recognize the possibility of severe illness or death in animals, particularly those with underlying health conditions. Continuous surveillance of SARS‐CoV‐2 infections in companion animals is crucial for better understanding the virus's epidemiology in animals and developing effective strategies to protect both animal and human health.

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