No evidence of COVID-19 transmission from pets to humans: Punjab prof
Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Published: March 17, 2020 1:20:09 am WHO says there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. (Photo: AP) AFTER STUDYING the case of a dog whose owner had contracted the COVID-19 in...
AFTER STUDYING the case of a dog whose owner had contracted the COVID-19 in Hong Kong (the canine tested negative on March 12), a senior professor of the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, has concluded that there is “no evidence of transmission from dogs, cats or other pets to humans”.
Dr Kirti Dua, senior professor veterinary medicine and in-charge, Centre for Wildlife Sciences, GADVASU, said pet owners need not panic, but should exercise certain precautions.
The Hong Kong dog’s test report, as received by the World Organisation for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties or OIE), an international organisation for ‘improving animal health worldwide’ under World Trade Organisation (WTO), from Hong Kong officials, states: “The dog was placed under quarantine on February 26, 2020, after its owner was hospitalised due to COVID-19 infection…Nasal, oral, rectal swabs as well as faeces were taken after the dog’s admission to the quarantine facility. Nasal and oral samples tested positive for SARS CoV-2. The dog has not exhibited any specific clinical signs. Follow-up…swab samples…were subsequently taken on February 28 and March 2 and 5, 2020, continued to test positive. Investigation is ongoing…” The dog then tested negative on March 12.
The dog’s report — which was submitted to OIE by Dr Thomas Sit, chief veterinary officer/assistant director (Inspection & Quarantine), Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Regional Government — is being studied and discussed by vets worldwide because it is the only case of a dog being tested as a ‘weak’ positive for COVID-19 and that too after its owner had tested positive.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) website, the virus that causes the COVID-19 is called ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2)’. “Even though the Hong Kong dog tested “mild, weak positive” for COVID-19 in initial testings, the results were negative in the most recent testing on March 12,” said Dr Dua.
“As of now there is no evidence of dogs, cats or other pets passing this virus to humans. In fact, the coronavirus strain COVID-19 doesn’t even affect animals according to studies till now…The report says that the zoonotical potential of the case is unknown at this time and the source of the outbreak or origin of infection is also unknown or inconclusive,” he added.
For pet owners, Dr Dua said, “Those who have been infected or are showing symptoms should maintain some distance from their pets, because it is possible that other humans who will touch their pet, might also get infected. There is need to maintain hygiene but there should not be any panic. It is unclear if the Hong Kong got the mild infection from its owner or it was environmental contamination.”
WHO directive on pets
The official WHO website, in its answer to the query ‘Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet’, says, “While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available.”