Can pet animals spread coronavirus?
New Delhi, Mar 06: Amid coronavirus scare, a dog owned by a covid-19 positive person in Hong Kong has been found infected with the novel virus.
The post was shared on Twitter by one of the leading media outlets in China with the caption, "World's 1st pet dog infected with #COVID19 has been confirmed in #HongKong, a Pomeranian tested 'weak positive' three times, a local health official said Wed, raising concerns of human-to-animal transmission."
The authorities have quarantined the pet dog after its nasal and oral samples tested "weak positive" three times for the virus, a media report said. Meanwhile, the report also said the Hong Kong medical authorities have advised citizens to not kiss their pet dogs.
Earlier, there were reports that the virus of the deadly covid-19 was being found in animals in China, following which, a number of pet owners in the most affected areas of China had thrown their pets from their balconies.
However, scientists have suggested that pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners.
That's the conclusion of Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department after a dog in quarantine tested weak positive for the virus February 27, February 28 and March 2, using the canine's nasal and oral cavity samples.
"There is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick."
Scientists suspect the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 that causes the disease originated in bats before passing it on to another species, possibly a small wild mammal, that passed it on to humans.
However, experts from the School of Public Health of The University of Hong Kong, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences of the City University of Hong Kong and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have unanimously agreed that the dog has a low-level of infection and it is "likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission".
The dog, and another also in quarantine which has tested negative for the virus, will be tested again before being released. The department suggested any pets, including dogs and cats, from households where someone has tested positive for the virus should be put into quarantine.
In general, pet owners should maintain good hygiene, including washing hands before and after handling animals, their food and supplies and no kissing them. People who are sick should avoid contact with pets and a veterinarian's advice should be sought if changes in a pet's health conditions are detected.
"Apart from maintaining good hygiene practices, pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets," the spokesman said.