Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to a 16-year-old domestic cat with comorbidities in Pennsylvania, USA

Deepanker Tewari, Lore Boger, Steven Brady, Julia Livengood, Mary Lea Killian, Meera Surendran Nair, Nagaraja Thirumalapura, Suresh V. Kuchipudi, Corey Zellers, Betsy Schroder, Mia Torchetti, Ann Carpenter, Amber Kunkel, Kevin Brightbill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), besides causing human infection, has been shown to naturally infect several susceptible animal species including large cats (tigers, lions, pumas, spotted leopards), dogs, cats, ferrets, gorillas and minks. Cats and minks are continuing to be the most reported species with SARS-CoV-2 infections among animals but it needs to be investigated further. Methods and Results: We report the detection of SARS-CoV-2 from a domestic cat that exhibited respiratory disease after being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 virus from humans in the same household. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in two oropharyngeal swabs collected at two time points, 11 days apart; the first, when the cat was reported to be sick and the second, before euthanasia due to poor prognosis. The viral nucleic acid detected at two time points showed no genomic variation and resembled the clade GH circulating in humans in the United States. Clinical and pathological findings noted in this 16-year-old cat were consistent with respiratory and cardiac insufficiency. Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 viral infection was likely an incidental clinical finding, as the virus was not detected in fixed lungs, heart, or kidney tissues. Only fresh lung tissue collected at necropsy showed the presence of viral nucleic acid, albeit at a very low level. Further research is needed to clarify the clinical course of SARS-CoV-2 in companion animals of advanced age and underlying cardiac disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-906
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Medicine and Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Veterinary


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