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Are Pets At The Risk Of Coronavirus?
Boldsky | 30th Mar, 2020 12:08 PM

Soon after the outbreak of coronavirus or COVID-19, the World Health Organization released information about the myths and facts about coronavirus. It says there's no evidence yet that proves animals such as dogs and cats can get infected with the coronavirus.

However, a recent report by Belgian health authorities says that a pet cat has been infected with COVID-19 which was transmitted by its owner. A previous report also mentions about two dogs who have been tested coronavirus positive after their owner was infected with the virus.

Can Humans Pass Coronavirus To Their Pets

Coronavirus is a zoonotic disease in which the virus spread from non-human animals such as bats and birds to humans. It is common in domestic and wild animals and does not do any harm to them.

Coronavirus is usually of four types: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Alpha and beta coronaviruses infect mammals while gamma and delta infect birds and fish. SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV that occurred previous to COVID-19 belong to the beta coronavirus with origin from bats. They are known to cause severe respiratory disorders in humans. As the coronavirus behind COVID-19 is still unknown, it is unclear whether it will infect animals such as dogs and cats the same way as SARS and MERS. [1]

According to the WHO, in rare instances, coronavirus can infect other species too, but it is not necessary that the animals will get illnesses similar to humans. There's also a lower possibility of the transmission of the infection to others from pets.

Can Pets Spread COVID-19

Li Lanjuan, a representative of China's National Health Commission says that a person infected with COVID-19 needs to take care of their own health as well as the health of their dogs or cats as they may also get infected from close contact of coronavirus positive persons. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, viruses survive best on smooth surfaces and as cats and dogs have furs, they tend to trap pathogens from entering their body. The best way to prevent the risk is by maintaining normal hygiene of washing hands every time you touch your pet.

What To Do

If you are diagnosed with positive COVID-19, stay away from your pets and other animals as you maintain a distance with your loved ones. Though there is only a few incidence of COVID-19 spread from infected humans to animals, it is still recommended by medical experts to limit animal contact. This is the best way to ensure yours and your pet's health.

Avoid any type of contact with animals, including hugging, kissing or sharing food with them. Tell your loved ones to take care of them while you are sick. Also, if it is necessary to care for them, it is advised to wash your hand and wear a mask before interacting with them.

Common FAQ's

1. Should I avoid with my pets if I am infected with COVID-19?

There's no evidence yet to prove that COVID-19 can affect pets similar to humans. However, it is advised to stay away from animals if you are sick with coronavirus.

2. What should I do if my pet develops a sudden illness?

It is advised to consult a veterinary expert in case your pet has developed a sudden illness and has been in contact with the person who is diagnosed with coronavirus.

3. What should be done with pets if they are in areas where the virus is active?

It is a good practice to stay away from animals and avoid their contact, especially if the coronavirus is active in the area. Though there is a few evidence proving the same, it is better to be safe than sorry.

4. Can pets serve as a reservoir for COVID1-9 and pass them back to humans?

In rare instances, if pets get coronavirus from humans, they may serve as a reservoir for the virus. But it is not necessary that they will transmit it back to humans similar to human-to-human interaction. Many researches are still going on to prove it.

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