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Pets, Owners and Coronavirus

Because of the virulence of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) many pet owners have aired their concerns as to whether the disease can be passed from humans to pets.  In response VetFunchal prepared a statement to clarify some essential points, referring to the ‘WSAVA Councils (World Small Animal Veterinary Association).

Here are the most frequently asked questions – and their answers:

How can I help protect myself and my clinical team?

Please visit for details on how to protect yourself from respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19.

Can COVID-19 infect pets?

Currently, there is no evidence that pets can be infected or spread COVID-19. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the information will be updated as it becomes available.

If my pet came into contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19, can he spread the disease to others?

Although we are still unsure, there is no evidence that pets can be infected or spread SARS-Cov-2. We also don’t know if they can get sick with this new coronavirus. In addition, there is currently no evidence that pets can be a source of infection for people. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the information will be updated as it becomes available.

What should I do if my pet develops an unexplained illness and is around a person with documented COVID-19 infection?

If your pet develops an unexplained illness and has been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19, talk to the public health technician who works with the person infected with COVID-19. If the official veterinarian or other health technician recommends that you take your pet to your veterinary clinic, call to inform him that he will present a sick pet and that he has been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19. This will give the clinic time to prepare an isolation area. Do not take the animal to a veterinary clinic unless instructed by a public health official.

What are the concerns about pets that came into contact with people infected with this virus?

Although COVID-19 appears to have come from an animal source, it is now transmitted from person to person. This spread is thought to occur mainly by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. At the moment, it is not clear how easy or sustainable this virus is spreading among people. It is important to note that there is no evidence that pets, including pets such as dogs and cats, can be infected with COVID-19.

What should be done with pets in areas where the virus is active?

Although there have been reports of pets or other animals falling ill with COVID-19, until we know more, owners should avoid contact with animals they are not familiar with and always wash their hands before and after interacting with animals . If owners are sick with COVID-19, they should avoid contact with animals in their home, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food. If they need to care for their pet or be around animals while they are sick, they should wash their hands before and after interacting with them and wear a face mask.

Should veterinarians start vaccinating dogs against canine coronavirus due to the risk of SARS-Cov-2?

Canine coronavirus vaccines available in some global markets are designed to protect against enteric coronavirus infection and are NOT licensed to protect against respiratory infections. Veterinarians should NOT use these vaccines in the face of the current outbreak, thinking that there may be some form of cross-protection against COVID-19. There is absolutely no evidence that vaccinating dogs with commercially available vaccines provides cross-protection against COVID-19 infection, as enteric and respiratory viruses are distinct variants of the coronavirus. Currently, there are no vaccines available on any market for respiratory coronavirus infection in dogs.

What is the WSAVA’s response to reports that a dog was “infected” with COVID-19 in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong reports on 28 February indicated that an infected patient’s pet dog had tested ‘weakly positive’ for COVID-19 after routine testing. The Hong Kong SAR Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation (AFCD) reported that the dog, which shows no relevant clinical signs, has been quarantined and further states that “there is no evidence that pets may be infected with the COVID-19 virus or that could be a source of infection for people ”.

WSAVA recommends that pet owners in areas where there are known human cases of COVID-19 follow the recommendations of the regional health authority, including washing their hands before interacting with their pets and, if they are sick, wearing masks when using. around them.

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses belong to the Coronaviridae family. Alpha and beta coronaviruses usually infect mammals, while gamma and delta coronaviruses usually infect birds and fish. Canine coronavirus, which can cause mild diarrhea, and feline coronavirus, which can cause feline infectious peritonitis (PIF), are both alpha-coronavirus. These coronaviruses are not associated with the current coronavirus outbreak. Until the appearance of SARS-Cov-2, which belongs to beta-coronaviruses, there were only six known coronaviruses capable of infecting humans and causing respiratory diseases, including SARS-CoV severe acute respiratory syndrome (identified in 2002/2003) and MERS-CoV coronavirus of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (identified in 2012). SARS-Cov-2 is genetically more related to SARS-CoV than to MERS-CoV, but both are beta-coronaviruses from bats. Although it is not known whether COVID-19 will behave in the same way as SARS and MERS, information from both previous coronaviruses can provide recommendations on COVID-19.

In recent weeks, there has been rapid progress in identifying viral aetiology, isolating infectious viruses and developing diagnostic tools. However, there are still many important questions that still need to be answered. The most up-to-date information and advice on human infection can be found on the following websites:

– World Organization for Animal Health (OIE ).

– World Health Organization (WHO )

– Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC)

Samantha Gannon

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