In addition, outside of a lab, infection relies primarily on breathing viral particles from an infected person and normal contact is not necessarily an infection in animals. Ferrets have been shown in the laboratory to be susceptible to infection with the virus and to spread it to other ferrets.
But scientists at Tufts have reported in a paper that has so far been peer-reviewed, that there were no humans in a house with 29 domesticated ferrets and two with Kovid, who had become infected with a ferret virus.
The 29 hawkers roamed freely in the house, and both human adults were ill enough with Kovid to show symptoms, so there were ample opportunities for infection. Katlyn Savatzki, a virologist at Tufts University and one of the authors of the ferret paper, said, “Isn’t it incredible? It was a beautiful natural experiment.”
The researchers concluded that there may be genetic barriers to infection that go away in a laboratory with concentrated doses of the virus. Minkus, who are in the same family as ferrets, get infected very easily, and become ill with the disease. Researchers have also reported transmission from animals to humans on mink farms in the Netherlands in a paper that has not yet been reviewed. Dr. Savatzky said the paper “saw very strong evidence of multiple, independent mink-to-human transmission events.”
Researchers in the state of Colorado recommend keeping cats indoors, especially if a human has been infected in a home, as they can spread it to other cats. Also, if a person with Kovid needs to be hospitalized and has pet cats, Drs. Porter suggested, cat caretakers should observe the social distinction as they would live with an individual.
Infected cats who showed immunity, Drs. Bosco-Luth said, they were animals that were infected by contact with other cats, not by pipettes. And, she said, the immune response was stronger than some other laboratory animals, although how long the conservation lasts is completely unknown.