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Coronavirus in Pets?

Institute of Virology at Freie Universität Offers Pathogen Detection for Dogs and Cats

№ 064/2020 from Apr 05, 2020

Scientists at the Institute of Virology at Freie Universität Berlin are investigating the occurrence of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in dogs and cats. “There seems to be transmission from humans to pets under natural conditions,” states Klaus Osterrieder, a virologist at the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Freie Universität. He says, however, that so far there is no evidence that infection of dogs or cats affects what happens in humans. The institute offers pathogen detection as part of its virus diagnostics. Those interested are requested to call ahead by phone: +49 30 838-51822.

“There is increasing evidence that the virus can infect cats in particular,” says Professor Osterrieder. This was reported in both Hong Kong and in Liège in Belgium. In addition, there are also first data from experimental infections of cats and ferrets showing that SARS-CoV-2 can multiply in these species. According to virologist Osterrieder, the previous experimental findings suggest that cats are more likely to become carriers of the virus than dogs.

The pathogen detection at Freie Universität Berlin's Institut of Virology is carried out using PCR methods based on those in humans. If desired, virus cultivation can also be carried out in cell culture. This would have the advantage for animal owners that the virus can be characterized more precisely. The preferred sample material for the examination is dry throat swabs or swabs in a virus transport medium that can be provided by the institute.


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus Osterrieder, Institute of Virology, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-51822, Email: no.34@fu-berlin.de; Currently queries are only being accepted via email through the Office of News and Public Affairs: experten@fu-berlin.de 

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