Are you worried about coronavirus?
We all are, at this point. I have received a few questions about pets contracting and spreading coronavirus, so I wanted to take a minute to update you.
Unfortunately, there is still not a lot of information on this. A dog did test weakly positive for the virus that causes CIVID-19 in Hong Kong on February 28. This dog belonged to an owner that tested positive for the virus (SARS-CoV-2, formerly called 2019-nCoV) and has COVID-19. This dog did not show any clinical signs of disease. It is not known if the presence of the virus is due to infection, environmental contamination, cross-reactivity, or even potential issues with the test itself. The dog is being cared for and will be monitored and tested further.
According to the CDC, there are no animals in the US that have been identified with the virus, and there is no evidence that dogs or other pets can contract or spread COVID-19.
Here is a list of basic information known, taken from the AVMA website:
- Right now, the primary concern is for human health. The virus causes flu-like symptoms in people, including mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
- At this time, experts have not expressed concern about transmission to or from animals. Multiple international health organizations have indicated that pets and other domestic animals are not considered at risk for contracting COVID-19.
- As always, animal owners should continue to include pets and other animals in their emergency preparedness planning, including keeping a two-week supply of food and medications on hand.
- The COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China.
- Initial reports implicated a seafood and animal market in Wuhan City, but person-to-person spread has been indicated in numerous countries.
- There is no antiviral agent proven to be effective against this disease, and there is no immunization available.
- The immediate health risk to the general public in the U.S. is still considered low, although the CDC considers the virus a very serious public health threat.
- The coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 is designated SARS-CoV-2 (formerly 2019-nCoV).
- The CDC is tracking updated information about COVID-19 cases worldwide and in the United States.
- The U.S. State Department has issued the following travel advisories referring to COVID-19: Level 4: Do not travel for China and Iran; Level 3: Reconsider travel for Mongolia and South Korea; and Level 2: Exercise increased caution for Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, and Macau. (these have changed, as this was published on February 28, the day the dog was reported).
As I was talking to a client today about possible FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) in her cat, I mentioned we could do a Corona titre. This made her very nervous. Enteric coronavirus (FIP in cats, and Parvo virus in dogs) is very different from COVID-19. These viruses are not zoonotic (they cannot be passed to people). They are enteric diseases, but they are also unrelated to the human enteric corona virus, as much as the COVI-19 is unrelated to human enteric corona19.
Is my pet at risk from the COVID-19 coronavirus, or will my pet infect me?
According to the World Health Organization (in addition to the CDC, as mentioned above), there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats have become ill with this virus or will become a source of infection of COVID-19 in other animals or humans.
It’s important to remember that viruses can sometimes infect a species but not cause illness in that species, nor become transmissible to others. Again, it is not believed that pets such as cats or dogs can pass COVID-19 to humans.
And, as far as realistic risk factors—if, for instance, your dog is usually at home and doesn’t contact other dogs or people and no one in your household has COVID-19, the odds that your pet would become infected are highly unlikely.
If you have COVID-19, you should restrict your contact with pets and other animals, just like you would with other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask as directed by your physician.
As a matter of everyday health, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets to help avoid transmission of more common illness-causing agents, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella, parainfluenza and canine influenza, which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets.
We are always here to help guide you to choose adequate vaccines that your pet will require. Please feel free to call us or bring it up at your next appointment.