Want to help the government ascertain how cats contract coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries are interested in examining the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to domestic animals, particularly household cats.
But they need your help.
"Recent evidence of natural infections suggests that some animals can be infected and indirectly transmit the COVID-19 virus," explains a news release. "This study will look at the risks of COVID-19 virus transmission from humans to cats and will help fill important information gaps on companion animals and COVID-19."
You will participate in a "pre-sampling survey" over the phone before each scheduled sample collection date. If your cat tests positive, sampling will continue every week until a negative test result is found.
The BCCDC adds that "this is a contact-less study; you will be asked to place your cat(s) in a carrier outside the front door for the sample collection team."
No carrier? No problem.
The BCCDC team will provide you with a sanitized carrier; a mobile station will also be set up outside your home to test your cat(s) and bring them back to you.
If you have more than one cat, the team can sample up to three cats per household.
Experienced animal care professionals will use "safe and humane manual restraint methods" to minimize stress to your cat, as well as "fear-free" handling techniques.
If these methods are not successful, the sampling team will make the decision not to proceed with sampling on that day and repeat on another day, or they may decide to not sample the cat at all if it is too stressful on the cat.
The following samples will be collected from cats:
- blood sample (3 ml)
- nasal/oral swab
- rectal swab
Samples will be collected twice with 10 days (max) between each sample collection.
- There is one or more laboratory-confirmed, human COVID-19 case in the household (symptomatic or asymptomatic cases are acceptable)
- Date of lab confirmation of one or more COVID-19 case(s) in the household is 7 days or less before first cat sampling visit for this study
- COVID-19 case(s) in the household are being managed at home and not in a hospital, care facility, or other setting at the time of recruitment
- Residence is within the Lower Mainland of British Columbia
- One or more adults in the household has given consent to participate in study
- Date of lab confirmation of all COVID-19 case(s) in the household is greater than 7 days before first cat sampling visit for this study
- Participants under the age of 18
- Participants living outside the Lower Mainland
How to participate
If you're interested in participating, have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 5 days, and reside with a cat please email the project coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Your name
- Phone number
- Date of confirmed positive result
- City of residence
A team member will then reach out to you to discuss the study and answer any questions you may have.
You can withdraw your consent to participate at any point during the study.