Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pets and the Coronavirus: The Facts

By Timothy Gamble

3-29-2020 - There is a lot of misinformation and rumors surrounding pets and the current coronavirus pandemic. This is leading many pet owners to abandon their dogs and cats at animal shelters. There are also reports of veterinarians being asked to euthanize otherwise healthy pets by owners afraid of getting Covid-19 from their animals. These drastic over-reactions are completely unnecessary. There is NO evidence that people get get Covid-19 from their pets, and little evidence that pets can get Covid-19 at all. Here are the facts: 
  • Coronaviruses come in many strains. The current pandemic is caused by the Covid-19 strain.
  • Dogs and cats can get some strains of cornaviruses, but  not all strains of coronaviruses
  • Dogs and cats may be able to get Covid-19, but it is very rare. So far, only two dogs (both in Hong Kong) and one cat (in Belgium) have been diagnosed with Covid-19.
  • There is NO evidence of Covid-19 being passed to a human from a dog or cat. Not a single case of pet-to-human transfer is known anywhere in the world.
The World Health Organization has made the following statement: "The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare."

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) has not received any reports of a dog or cat getting Covid-19 in the United States, and therefore no reports of any person being infected from a dog or cat.  On their website, the CDC states "At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States."

It is worth noting that Covid-19 can survive on surfaces for several days (up to 9 days according to some researchers). Theoretically, it may be possible for an animal that comes into contact with an infected person to carry the virus on their coat, potentially exposing uninfected people who later pet or touch the animal. In addition to keeping your pets away from others (yes, social distancing goes for dogs and cats, too), the CDC offers this advice for pet owners:
  • Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
  • Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
  • If you get sick, have another member of your household care for your animals if possible.
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