A Cat Gave Me Covid: Vet in Thailand “first in the world” to catch Covid-19 from a cat

A cat sneezed in a veterinarian’s face and gave her Covid-19, according to a recent study conducted by Songkhla University in southern Thailand. Worldwide, no other cat-to-human cases have been reported.

The case study reports that a father and son from Bangkok tested positive for Covid-19 back in August last year, but because there were no hospital beds available in Bangkok, they were transferred in an ambulance for 20 hours to Prince of Songkhla university for treatment, with their cat. The cat slept in their beds and was later transferred to the university veterinarian hospital for testing.

The vet conducted nasal swabbing on the cat, which sneezed in her face. The cat’s test results came back positive for the virus. Despite wearing a mask, the vet started to develop symptoms 3 days later and tested positive for Covid-19. No people who had close contact with the vet tested positive, so researchers concluded she most likely caught the virus from the cat.

Coronavirus is a zoonotic disease, and many animals have tested positive including minks, cats, dogs, lions and tigers. However, most of these cases were “reverse zoonosis” or human-to-animal transmission. The vet’s case is the first reported cat-to-human transmission. One study suggests that a group of farmers in the Netherlands caught Covid-19 from minks.

The research also signifies the possibility that Covid-19 can be transmitted through the eyes, or “ocular transmission.” This is because the vet, although she was wearing a N95 mask, wasn’t wearing goggles. So the research supports the use of face shields in addition to masks during close range interactions with infected animals or humans.

If you have a feline friend, there’s no need to worry. Experts say the vet’s case was a special one and the risk of catching Covid-19 from a cat remains very low. You’re much more likely to give the virus to your pet than the other way around.


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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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