A variant of SARS-CoV-2 found in pets, and can cause heart issues

New studies have shown that pets – ie dogs and cats – are diagnosed with the variable disease SARS-CoV-2, and although it has not yet been confirmed, it is likely that the virus could put animals at risk from heart issues similar to those seen in some human patients. They were discovered in the UK after vets noticed a strange spike in the number of pets suffering from a type of heart inflammation called myocarditis.

Researchers at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development studied cats and dogs introduced to a veterinary clinic in London. The researchers focused specifically on pets that were in the cardiology unit, noting that the center observed a spike in patients with myocarditis from 1.4- to 12.8-percent between December. 2020 and February 2021.

The observed increase in pets suffering from heart inflammation coincided with the spin-off of SARS-CoV-2 known as B.1.1.7 in the UK, raising interest in the possible connection with it. As part of their most recent research on the subject, the researchers tested three dogs and eight cats that had developed symptoms similar to those found in human COVID-19 patients, including trouble breathing.

None of these pets had a history of heart disease but were found through tests to have irregular heartbeats and other heart issues, as well as flushing in their lungs. Of these animals, seven were tested with retests and three returned positive for the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant.

Two of the remaining animals tested positive for antibodies indicating that they had previously been infected with the virus. Although all of the pets eventually passed, it is reported that one of the cats was removed after re-breeding.

There are many questions about the variability of viruses and the rate of possible transmission between humans and animals. However, it is also important to remember that the heart issues found in these pets have not yet been confirmed caused with the virus – further study of the subject is required.