Geneva, Switzerland.- The family of cats, including cats and tigers, are susceptible to the new coronavirus and the first can transmit it to others of the same species, confirmed on Friday a specialist in zoonoses and food diseases of the World Organization of the Health (WHO), Peter Ben Embarek.
“Until now studies indicate that cats, cats and even tigers are a group of animals susceptible to the virus, and that cats can also transmit the disease to other cats,” said the expert in a virtual press conference from the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
A tiger was infected in a New York zoo, in addition to the fact that in Spain the first case of a cat that had contracted the SARS-Cov-2 virus, the cause of the COVID -19 disease, has just been confirmed. they add six cases in the world.
The animal was already experiencing other health problems and was a pet of a family in which several members had been infected. Ben Embarek said dogs would also be somewhat susceptible to the coronavirus, but to a lesser extent than cats.
In the area of animals raised for human consumption, the specialist said that pigs and poultry “do not appear to be susceptible to the virus, which is good news due to the close contact that humans have with them and the amounts that they are raised in the world. “
Numerous studies in different parts of the world inquire about which animal species can contract the coronavirus and transmit it, since this would give clues about the animal that transmitted it to humans.
The scientific consensus that the WHO has insisted on several times in recent weeks is that SARS-CoV-2 has a natural origin and that its “reservoir” – like that of several other types of coronaviruses – are bats; which, however, does not affect.
Determining whether animal species that are in close and constant contact with humans (such as pets or farm animals) is also important to prevent more animals from becoming new natural “reservoirs” and infecting humans in the future.
Meanwhile, knowing with certainty which animal played the role of “intermediary” between the bat and man in the current crisis is essential “to prevent this situation from repeating months or years later”.
In the SARS pandemic in 2003 (another coronavirus) it has been established that the “intermediary” was the Siberian cat.
Ben Embarek assured that the new coronavirus only has “affinity” with certain animals: “It cannot, at all, invade anything it touches or moves.”
On the geographical origin of the pandemic, the WHO expert said that until now it has been known that the Wuhan wild animal market “was either the origin or had an amplifying role” of the virus.
The first severe cases of COVID-19 were detected in December in people who had a relationship with that market, either because they frequented it or because they worked there.
It is also to be determined if the transmission of the coronavirus occurred from an infected animal to a person or if an individual who already carried the virus spread it there in contact with others in a crowded and unhygienic environment, as was the case in that case. market, which is currently closed.
The pandemic has brought to light the existence of these types of supply centers, not only in China, but in many countries around the world, and the need for them to comply with essential hygiene and safety measures.
This includes good waste management, the transit of people and goods, the separation between live animals and animal products, as well as between these and the areas where fruits and vegetables are sold.