To characterize clinical and epidemiologic features of SARS-CoV-2 in companion animals detected through both passive and active surveillance in the US.
204 companion animals (109 cats, 95 dogs) across 33 states with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections between March 2020 and December 2021.
Public health officials, animal health officials, and academic researchers investigating zoonotic SARS-CoV-2 transmission events reported clinical, laboratory, and epidemiologic information through a standardized One Health surveillance process developed by the CDC and partners.
Among dogs and cats identified through passive surveillance, 94% (n = 87) had reported exposure to a person with COVID-19 before infection. Clinical signs of illness were present in 74% of pets identified through passive surveillance and 27% of pets identified through active surveillance. Duration of illness in pets averaged 15 days in cats and 12 days in dogs. The average time between human and pet onset of illness was 10 days. Viral nucleic acid was first detected at 3 days after exposure in both cats and dogs. Antibodies were detected starting 5 days after exposure, and titers were highest at 9 days in cats and 14 days in dogs.
Results of the present study supported that cats and dogs primarily become infected with SARS-CoV-2 following exposure to a person with COVID-19, most often their owners. Case investigation and surveillance that include both people and animals are necessary to understand transmission dynamics and viral evolution of zoonotic diseases like SARS-CoV-2.
To establish a pathoepidemiological model to evaluate the role of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first 10 companion animals that died while infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the US.
10 cats and dogs that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and died or were euthanized in the US between March 2020 and January 2021.
A standardized algorithm was developed to direct case investigations, determine the necessity of certain diagnostic procedures, and evaluate the role, if any, that SARS-CoV-2 infection played in the animals’ course of disease and death. Using clinical and diagnostic information collected by state animal health officials, state public health veterinarians, and other state and local partners, this algorithm was applied to each animal case.
SARS-CoV-2 was an incidental finding in 8 animals, was suspected to have contributed to the severity of clinical signs leading to euthanasia in 1 dog, and was the primary reason for death for 1 cat.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
This report provides the global community with a standardized process for directing case investigations, determining the necessity of certain diagnostic procedures, and determining the clinical significance of SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals with fatal outcomes and provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can, in rare circumstances, cause or contribute to death in pets.