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Can humans get COVID-19 from animals?

Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, June 10: A nine-year old lioness has died after testing positive for Covid-19 at a zoo in Chennai, in what is believed to be the first reported death of an animal in the country due to the novel coronavirus. Since then, the officials have pressed panic button and have now tested a group of elephants to see whether any among them has an infection.

Representational Image

SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, was first identified in humans in December 2019. As of 9 June it has affected more than 175 million people worldwide. Although the virus is believed to be ancestrally linked to bats, the virus origin and intermediate host(s) of SARS-CoV-2 have not yet been identified.

Studies suggests that the virus is predominantly transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and close contact, but there are also examples of transmission between humans and animals.

Several animals that have been in contact with infected humans, such as minks, dogs, domestic cats, lions and tigers, have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Can humans get COVID-19 from animals?

While theories of the transmission of Coronavirus from bats to humans are being researched, CDC says "at this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading Sars-CoV-2 to people... the risk of animals spreading Covid-19 to people is considered to be low".

However, recently a case of Covid-19 spreading to humans from Mink and Otters have been reported in Netherlands, Denmark, and Poland. Cases were reported in the US too but CDC says "infected workers likely introduced Sars-CoV-2 to mink on the farms, and the virus then began to spread among the mink".

Animals with reported SARS-CoV-2 infection

According to CDC, companion animals like cats and dogs, big cats in zoos or sanctuaries, gorillas in zoos, mink on farms, and a few other mammals can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but we don't yet know all of the animals that can get infected. There have been reports of animals infected with the virus worldwide. Most of these animals became infected after contact with people with COVID-19.

What to do if you have pets

If you have pets, treat them as you would other human family members to protect them from a possible COVID-19 infection.

Because there is a risk that people with COVID-19 could spread the virus to animals, pet owners should limit their pet's interaction with people outside their household.

Keep cats indoors when possible and do not let them roam freely outside.

Walk dogs on a leash at least 6 feet away from others to protect them from interacting with people outside the household.

Avoid public places where large numbers of people gather.
Do not put a mask on pets. Masks could harm your pet.

There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. Talk to your veterinarian​ if you have questions about appropriate products for bathing or cleaning your pet​​.

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