We don’t yet know all the animals that can get infected with COVID-19.
Although SARS-CoV-2 originated in an animal – most likely a bat – it is not animals that drive the course of the pandemic. Rather, it is us, humans.
It appears the virus can spread from people to animals during close contact. Data from mink farms in Denmark has also shown that the virus can not only be passed between humans and animals, but it can also mutate in the animal host and then “jump” back onto people, infecting them. While this is definitely a cause for concern, it must be noted that mink are particularly susceptible to coronaviruses and farms provide the ideal environment for them to spread. What about other species?
Animals which have been infected with SARS-CoV-2
Cats, dogs and other mammals can get infected, mostly after a close contact with an infected person.
There have been reports of pet cats and dogs contracting the virus in several countries around the world.
Large cats, such as tigers and pumas can get COVID-19 too. The reported cases were mostly of animals held in captivity, who probably caught the disease from infected zoo workers. Cases include lions and tigers in a New York zoo and tigers in a Tennessee zoo.
Meanwhile, research has shown that ferrets, fruit bats, hamsters, and tree shrews can also become infected with the virus. They, as well as cats, can spread the infection to other animals of the same species in laboratory settings.
By contrast, dogs seem to spread the virus less easily to other dogs.
Research in a laboratory setting has found that non-human primates, such as Rhesus macaques, cynomolgus macaques, Grivets, and common marmosets can also become infected SARS-CoV-2 and become sick.
But laboratory mice, pigs, chickens, and ducks did not seem to become infected or spread the disease.
COVID-19 in animals is an area worth to be explored, especially to better understand the extent to which pets can spread the disease. While more research is being done, we need to be careful of our interactions with wildlife.