Although the origin of the COVID-19 is still unknown but experts believe it has originated from some animal. The first case reported in animals in US was the case of a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. After the tiger tested positive, other animals were also tested because they were observed suffering from respiratory illnesses. The cause of the tiger being affected was determined as being infected by the zoo worked who had also tested positive for the virus. Later, five tigers and three lions also tested positive.
Initially, World Health Organization’s guidelines suggested that pets are likely safe from the virus. After 2 cats and a dog tested positive, experts contradicted with the guidelines. The owners of those pets had already been infected and were in serious condition. It proved that the pets may be infected by their owners. However, there is no evidence of transmission of the virus from pets to humans.
Dr. Catherine Barnette, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based veterinarian says, “While the risk of human-to-animal transmission is still considered low, a number of documented cases of transmission have occurred.” She told, “the infected dog and one of the cats belonged to owners who were clinically ill with COVID-19.”
“Animals, pets, can get infected […] there’s no evidence that the virus is transmitted from the pet to a human,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the senior most health official for infectious diseases said in a briefing.
As of March 25, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department “conducted tests on 17 dogs and eight cats from households with confirmed COVID-19 cases or persons in close contact with confirmed patients, and only two dogs had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.”
The Hong Kong officials concluded that “dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there is no evidence that they play a role in the spread of the virus.”
By now, no fatalities are reported in animals due to COVID-19. Recently, Chinese officials have successfully tested a vaccine on an infected monkey. Among the monkeys, the one who was injected the vaccine recovered and no signs of virus were found in his lungs while the health of other monkeys deteriorated.
How to Keep Your Pets Safe?
The cases of COVID-19 are very rare worldwide and determination of effects and causes still need more study. Experts don’t recommend any changes in behavior with the pets. However, they do suggest keeping pets away from patients infected by the virus.
Social distancing is also recommended for the pets. Keeping your pets away from other people is suggested since experts consider everybody a COVID-19 suspect.
Bathing the pets with soap is a good precautionary measure to kill any chances of existence of the virus. Also, using hand sanitizers before and after interacting with the pets is recommended.
If you are suffering from fever, flu or any other illness, let some other member of your family take care of your pet instead of taking the risk. In case this is not possible, use face coverings.
However, distancing yourself from your pets may affect both, the owner and the pet. As the social distancing has caused a social crisis for people, spending time with pets is supportive in keeping moods and morale good.