People who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 should take care of their pets only with a mask.
The first two dogs diagnosed with the coronavirus — a Pomeranian and a German shepherd — were most likely to have contracted from their owners. Both dogs have viral RNA and antibodies to SARS-CoV-2; also, a live virus was circulating in one of the dogs. Virologists from the University of Hong Kong write about this in their article, published in Nature magazine.
Analysis of viral genetic sequences in dogs has shown that they are identical to those found in humans. Such a genetic link convincingly confirms the fact of the transmission of the pathogen from the owners to the pets. The study did not show any evidence that dogs can transmit the infection to other animals or people. But so far, scientists do not have enough data to determine in which direction the virus might spread.
The likelihood of transmission of the virus from a person to a dog is utterly small. Only 2 out of 15 dogs that lived with infected owners and were monitored by scientists became infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The symptoms of coronavirus were also not severe.
This is not the first case of detecting coronavirus infection in animals that have somehow come into contact with humans. The Brussels Times wrote that in Belgium a cat has been infected with the coronavirus from its owner. But a government spokesman noted that this is only a single case and not a rule.
Earlier, SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed in three domestic cats (one in Hong Kong and two in the United States). Four tigers and three lions at the New York Zoo also tested positive for coronavirus.
The new data confirms the results of the this-year study, in which Chinese researchers deliberately infected dogs with the coronavirus. Scientists recommend people diagnosed with Covid-19 wear a mask when caring for pets and limit tactile contact with them if possible. The scientists plan to continue their research on the transmission of the coronavirus. For instance, it was recently revealed that a close relative of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was found in bats. The researchers say this is the confirmation that the coronavirus infection has a natural origin and was not created in a laboratory. Scientists concluded that SARS-CoV-2 entered the human population from bats. Also, it is possible cats and dogs could be an intermediate in the transmission path, because the meat of these animals is actively used for food in China. Scientists also want to understand how human symptoms of Covid-19 can occur in dogs. For example, people with coronavirus often experience a loss of smell. This can affect specially trained dogs that sniff out explosives, drugs and illegal substances.
Thus, WHO claims that pet owners have nothing to fear, because pets do not pose a danger to people. But on the contrary, we do pose a danger to our pets. If you have coronavirus, take care of your furry family member only in a mask.