How do pets and COVID-19 mix? Following the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, scientists in China tested to see how the disease affected animals, and whether or not they could pass it on to humans. They found that cats could pass the virus to one another through viral RNA breathed out from the infected cat. But experts say cat (and dog) owners shouldn’t be too concerned just yet. The research shows they may not be as likely to contract it and pass it on as we may have originally thought.
Pets and COVID-19
Virologist Linda Saif at The Ohio State University in Wooster says that none of the affected cats actually showed symptoms of illness. Further, she claims only one of the cats that was exposed to the infected cats caught the virus. So, while experts say cats probably need to be considered when limiting the spread of the coronavirus, they aren’t necessarily a major factor in the spreading of the virus. One doctor in Hong Kong maintains that “the focus in the control of COVID-19 therefore undoubtedly needs to remain firmly on reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission.” Saif also finds it worth mentioning that during the SARS testing, there was no indication that cats were capable of passing the disease on to humans. Currently, the American Veterinary Medical Association is advising that you should interact with your pets as you normally would if you do not have the virus.
Have Pets Been Tested for COVID-19?
There was a case in Hong Kong, a COVID-19 patient’s dog tested “weak positive,” indicating a low level of the virus. The dog did not display any symptoms and was quarantined for 14 days. The next test came back negative and the dog recovered well. A professor of veterinary science claims that “dogs are not thought to be very good hosts for this virus.” Even so, experts in Hong Kong believe the dog may not have even been carrying the virus, rather the positive test was a result of “environmental contamination.” It is important that you keep your pets away from other people though, it will help maintain the spread of the virus in your own home. If you are infected with the virus and don’t have a healthy individual in your home to care for your pet, take the same measures you would when being around another person. Don’t touch your pet unless you have washed your hands, and wear a face mask as often as you can. Washing for 20 seconds with soap and water is the best way to keep your hands germ-free, but if you must use a sanitizer make sure it is at least 60% alcohol.
Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus!
While keeping your pets healthy during this time, make sure you are keeping yourself healthy as well. You and your pet should avoid people living outside your home as much as possible. As always, stay in your homes as often as you can. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces in your home and cars regularly. If you are still going to the office each day, sanitize your hands regularly throughout your shift and keep your workspace clean. If you feel sick, do NOT go to work, for your sake as well as those around you. Maintain a safe distance from people in public at all times, but most importantly: maintain your health! Reach out to your doctor by phone before going into a clinic or hospital.
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