Many reading this article will have questions about the Corona Virus (Covid 19) and their pet or working dog, whilst many in the UK are now taking some preventative measures to reduce their chances of injection, what about our dogs?
Are animals responsible for Covid 19 in people?
The predominant route of Covid 19 transmissions are human to human, Current evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus has an animal source. Ongoing investigations are important for identifying the animal source (including species involved) and establishing the potential role of an animal reservoir in this disease. Yet, to date, there is not enough scientific evidence to identify that source or to explain the route of transmission from an animal source to humans.
Genetic sequence data reveals that the COVID-19 virus is a close relative of other CoV found circulating in Rhinolophusbat (Horseshoe Bat) populations. There is the possibility that transmission to humans involved an intermediate host.
Priorities for research to investigate the animal source were discussed by the OIE informal advisory group on COVID-19 and were presented at the WHO Global Research and Innovation Forum (11-12 February 2020) by the President of the OIE Wildlife Working Group.
What do we know about COVID-19 virus and companion animals?
The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.
The Veterinary Services of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China reported to OIE evidence that a dog had tested positive to the COVID-19 virus following close exposure to its owners who were sick with COVID-19.
There is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19 virus. The OIE will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
The most important thing to remember about animals and COVID-19 is that they cannot transfer it to humans, and they should not be neglected. In the immediate aftermath of the outbreak, misinformation that animals might carry the virus led to the abandonment and killing of dogs and cats in some places. “Dogs and cats deserve the truth,”
What precautionary measures can be taken by owners of companion or other animals that have close contact with humans sick or suspected with COVID-19?
There have not been any reports of companion or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 and currently there is no evidence that they play a significant epidemiological role in this human disease. However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases (known as zoonotic diseases), it is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus.
When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.
When possible, people who are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with their pets and have another member of their household care for their animals. If they must look after their pet, they should maintain good hygiene practices and wear a face mask if possible.
"At this time, people should be minimally concerned about this coronavirus affecting their pets," Sander told Insider via email. "The virus seems well adapted to spread between people and, therefore, unlikely to jump to dogs or cats."
Dr. Will Sander - head of the joint veterinary-master's in public health degree program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine
What can National Veterinary Services do with regards to companion animals?
Public Health and Veterinary Services should work together using a One Health approach to share information and conduct a risk assessment when a person with COVID-19 reports being in contact with companion or other animals.
If a decision is made as a result of a risk assessment to test a companion animal which has had close contact with a person/owner infected with COVID-19, it is recommended that RT-PCR be used to test oral, nasal and fecal/rectal samples.
While there is no evidence of a COVID-19 infection spreading from one animal to another, keeping animals that test positive for COVID-19 away from unexposed animals should be considered best practice.
“What we can say is that the CDC has not reported any cases of pets or other animals becoming infected with COVID-19 in the United States or anywhere else in the world, including hotbeds like Italy,” Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club