Chinese City Bans Eating Cats And Dogs After Felines Were Found To Pass Coronavirus To Each Other
The Chinese city of Shenzhen has banned the eating of dogs and cats as part of a wider crackdown on the nation's wildlife trade, as new research reveals felines can catch coronavirus -- and pass it on.
Academics at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China discovered cats are highly susceptible to Covid-19.
They also believe they can transmit the virus to fellow cats through respiratory droplets, but dogs are unlikely to catch the infection.
Researchers used a small number of animals which were given a high dose of the virus to determine how animal management might be important to monitor in a pandemic.
“Surveillance for Sars-CoV-2 in cats should be considered as an adjunct to elimination of of Covid-19 in humans,” the paper concluded.
Just last week a pet cat tested positive for the coronavirus in Hong Kong after its owner was confirmed to have Covid-19.
The animal did not show any signs of having the disease, according to reports.
Hong Kong's Agricultural and Fisheries department warned there is currently no evidence pet animals can be a source of coronavirus and owners should not abandon their pets.
The cat is the third animal to test positive in Hong Kong, following earlier cases in which two dogs tested weak positive or positive during repeated tests for the virus.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has a note on its website which states there is no evidence a dog, cat or any pet can transmit coronavirus.
Meanwhile, authorities said the ban on eating cats and dogs would come into force on May 1.
“Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan,” the city government said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”
While some experts have varied theories, it is understood the deadly disease originated at a wildlife market in Wuhan -- where bats, snakes, civets and other animals were sold -- and was transmitted between an animal to a human.
Wuhan rapidly became the epicentre of the virus which has now spread to almost every country in the world.
There are now more than 935,000 cases worldwide and almost 47,000 deaths, many of those in Spain and Italy.
In February Chinese authorities said they were banning the trade and consumption of wild animals.
Animals which can be consumed include include pig, cattle, sheep, donkey, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, quail, as well as aquatic animals which are not banned by other laws or regulations.
Animal advocacy organisation HSI welcomed the legislation with China policy specialist Dr Peter Li saying this could be a "watershed moment" in the efforts to end "brutal trade".
He estimates about 10 million dogs and four million cats are killed in China every year.