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Public Library of Science, PLoS ONE, 4(16), p. e0250853, 2021

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0250853



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Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 infection in dogs and cats of humans diagnosed with COVID-19 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Background Infection by SARS-CoV-2 in domestic animals has been related to close contact with humans diagnosed with COVID-19. Objectives: To assess the exposure, infection, and persistence by SARS-CoV-2 of dogs and cats living in the same households of humans that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and to investigate clinical and laboratory alterations associated with animal infection. Methods Animals living with COVID-19 patients were longitudinally followed and had nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal and rectal swabs collected and tested for SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, blood samples were collected for laboratory analysis, and plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT90) to investigate specific SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Results Between May and October 2020, 39 pets (29 dogs and 10 cats) of 21 patients were investigated. Nine dogs (31%) and four cats (40%) from 10 (47.6%) households were infected with or seropositive for SARS-CoV-2. Animals tested positive from 11 to 51 days after the human index COVID-19 case onset of symptoms. Three dogs tested positive twice within 14, 30, and 31 days apart. SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies were detected in one dog (3.4%) and two cats (20%). In this study, six out of thirteen animals either infected with or seropositive for SARS-CoV-2 have developed mild but reversible signs of the disease. Using logistic regression analysis, neutering, and sharing bed with the ill owner were associated with pet infection. Conclusions The presence and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been identified in dogs and cats from households with human COVID-19 cases in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. People with COVID-19 should avoid close contact with their pets during the time of their illness.