Determining the role of natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in the death of domestic pets: 10 cases (2020-2021)
OBJECTIVE To establish a pathoepidemiological model to evaluate the role of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first 10 companion animals that died while infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the US. ANIMALS 10 cats and dogs that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and died or were euthanized in the US between March 2020 and January 2021. PROCEDURES A standardized algorithm was developed to direct case investigations, determine the necessity of certain diagnostic procedures, and evaluate the role, if any, that SARS-CoV-2 infection played in the animals' course of disease and death. Using clinical and diagnostic information collected by state animal health officials, state public health veterinarians, and other state and local partners, this algorithm was applied to each animal case. RESULTS SARS-CoV-2 was an incidental finding in 8 animals, was suspected to have contributed to the severity of clinical signs leading to euthanasia in 1 dog, and was the primary reason for death for 1 cat. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE This report provides the global community with a standardized process for directing case investigations, determining the necessity of certain diagnostic procedures, and determining the clinical significance of SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals with fatal outcomes and provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can, in rare circumstances, cause or contribute to death in pets.