We report the first cases of infection of domestic cats and dogs by the British B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 diagnosed at a specialist veterinary hospital in the South-East of England. Furthermore, we discovered that many owners and handlers of these pets had developed Covid-19 respiratory symptoms 3-6 weeks before their pets became ill and had also tested PCR positive for Covid-19.
We report a sudden increased number of domestic dogs and cats presented with myocarditis at the Cardiology Department of The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre (RVRC), based on the outskirts of London (UK), between December 2020 and February 2021, with an unexpected rise in incidence from 1.4% to 12.8% (8.5% in cats and 4.3% in dogs). This sudden surge of cases appeared to mimic the curve and timeline of the COVID-19 human pandemic in the UK due to the B.1.1.7 variant, starting mid-December 2020, peaking at the end of January 2021, before returning to the historical rate by mid-February 2021.
None of these patients with myocarditis had a previous history of heart disease and their clinical presentation was similar and characterized by acute onset of lethargy, inappetence, tachypnea/dyspnea (secondary to the presence of congestive heart failure), and, in some cases, syncopal events.