New research! Myocarditis associated with COVID-19 infection in pets
Our Cardiology team, led by Luca and Heidi Ferasin, in collaboration with fellow scientists, has conducted a ground-breaking study on the link between COVID-19 and myocarditis in pets. The research which has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Vet Record is the first to report the presence of COVID-19 in pets in the UK, as well as the link to myocarditis. Heidi tells us more about the study…
Can you summarise the study?
The study describes the diagnosis of COVID-19 (alpha variant) infection in 4 cats and 2 dogs. These dogs and cats presented to The Ralph as critical cardiac patients and our diagnostic investigations revealed changes compatible with an acute inflammation of the heart muscle (called myocarditis). Myocarditis is a well-known complication of COVID-19 infection in people but this is the first study that reports this problem in dogs and cats. Furthermore, this is the very first study to report infection of COVID-19 in dogs in the UK.
The incidence of myocarditis cases in our pet population appeared to mimic the surge in cases of COVID-19 infection in people in the UK at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. Most carers of these pets had symptoms of coronavirus or they had tested positive a few weeks before.
So, what does the research show?
The research shows that two cats and one dog were positive for COVID-19 alpha variant PCR and another two cats and one dog had antibodies against the virus indicating a previous infection. All of these patients presented to us with severe clinical signs relating to inflammation of their heart muscle (myocarditis).
Why is this research important?
- It’s the first report of alpha variant infection in pets
- It’s the first report of myocarditis associated with COVID-19 infection in pets
- It’s the first report of COVID-19 in dogs in the UK
- Pets that were positive to PCR (active infection) were detected on rectal swabs, rather than oro-pharyngeal swabs
What happens next?
The incidence of myocarditis cases has significantly dropped since April-May, following the same curve of COVID-19 cases in people. However, we will remain vigilant and act promptly if the same problem represents in the future.
Should I be worried about my pets getting ill with COVID-19?
People should not be worried. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 they should take the same precautions they would use with their family members, such as wearing a mask and washing hands before and after touching their pets.
For any queries, please get in touch.