Cats can catch coronavirus, study finds, prompting WHO probe

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A new study that claims cats can get infected by coronavirus has prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to probe further.

According to the study, published on the website of the journal Science, cats are vulnerable to the virus, but dogs, chickens and ducks are not.

Its aim was to identify animals that can be used to test experimental vaccines to fight COVID-19.

Barring a few reported infections in cats and dogs, there isn't enough evidence to prove that pets can be carriers.

The WHO said it will take a closer look at transmission of the virus between humans and pets, and urged people not to retaliate against animals over the outbreak.

"They're beings in their own right and they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. They are victims like the rest of us," said WHO's top emergencies expert Mike Ryan.

SARS-CoV-2, the scientific term for the virus that causes COVID-19, is believed to have spread from bats to humans.

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