Experts warn continued evolution of virus in animals followed by transmission to humans “poses significant long-term risk to public health”. Cats and dogs may need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to curb the spread of the virus, according to a group of scientists.
Coronavirus can infect a wide range of species including cats, dogs, mink and other domesticated species, experts from the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich-based research facility the Earlham Institute and University of Minnesota have said.
In an editorial for the journal Virulence, they warned that continued evolution of the virus in animals followed by transmission to humans “poses a significant long-term risk to public health”. “It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might… be necessary to curb the spread of the infection,” they wrote.
Last year, Denmark’s government culled millions of mink after it emerged hundreds of Covid-19 cases in the country were linked with coronavirus variants associated with farmed mink.
One of the editorial’s authors, Cock van Oosterhout, professor of evolutionary genetics at UEA, said dogs and cats can contract coronavirus but there are no known cases in which there has been spillback to humans. “It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, for domestic animals, just as a precaution to reduce this risk,” he said.
by Chiara Giordano