Since the COVID19 pandemic has started hitting the UK, many people who have been diagnosed with the disease have started complaining of myocarditis that causes heart inflammation. The issue has been flagged as a rare side effect of mRNA vaccines among men who are below 30 years of age. However, the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well can cause this condition. A veterinary heart specialist from the Ralph Veterinary Referral Center in Buckinghamshire England, Dr. Luca Ferasin has said that some cats and dogs as well have been found with rare heart inflammation that might be linked to COVID19 infection. These pets have been found to be lethargic, depressed, and have lost their appetite. Dr. Ferasin has said that these cats and dogs have been dealing with difficulty in breathing, as there has been an accumulation of fluids in their lungs due to heart disease. They have been getting unconscious due to abnormal heart rhythm. In the late last year, nearly 1.5 percent of pets have been referred to the Ralph Veterinary Referral Center with myocarditis issues. From December 2020 to March 2021 the number of pets found with myocarditis has shot up to 12.5 percent, said the expert. Later, Dr. Ferasin and his other colleagues have found that owners of these pets either have been diagnosed with COVID19 infection or have been dealing with some symptoms of the disease within 3 to 6 weeks of their pets falling sick. At that time, the Alpha variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been shooting up the number of COVID19 cases in the UK. That is the reason; experts have tested these pets for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Experts have presented the findings on rising cases of myocarditis in pets in the journal called Veterinary Records.
The authors of the report have said that out of 11 pets, two cats and one dog have been diagnosed with COVID19 infection linked to the alpha variant. Other two cats and a dog have been found with COVID19 antibodies. The remaining five pets have not been found with COVID19 antibodies or the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. Experts have said that none of the animals have been showing symptoms of respiratory issues or any other sign of COVID19 disease. However, all pets have been identified with heart inflammation. As the Ralph Veterinary Referral Center only treats cardiac events, the authors of the study have not been able to detect if dogs and cats might have dealt with typical COVID19 symptoms in other incidents of coronavirus. Margaret Hosie, who is a veterinary virologist from the MRC-University of Glasgow Center for Virus Research has said that it is uncertain if veterinarians have been seeing more incidents of heart inflammation in pets, led by the virus in general practice. She has said that findings like these will help general practice veterinarians to become more informed about viral-induced myocarditis. These pets have been given supportive therapies along with auxiliary oxygen and diuretics to take out fluids from their lungs. However, one cat that has been suffering from persistent irregular rhythm has been euthanized after the owner’s consent. None of the animals have been given antiviral medication.
Many pets across the world have been diagnosed with other variants of coronavirus including the delta variant; however, it is not clear whether other variants as well lead to the same type of heart inflammation in pets. Now, the rate of pets being referred to the Ralph has come down to its pre-COVID level that is 1 to 2 percent. Dr. Ferasin has said that owners who have been diagnosed with COVID19 infections should keep their distance from their pets just as they follow social distancing with other people. If someone else cannot take care of their pets, they should wear facemasks while preparing their food and avoid the odds of infecting them. Dr. Ferasin has said that many studies have confirmed that the virus can spread from people to their pets but vice-versa is not possible, therefore people should not be frightened if their pets start exhibiting signs of coronavirus infection.