Researchers Investigate Pets and People Coronavirus Connection

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The researchers at the universities are looking to see whether or not animals truly are ‘dead-end’ hosts, in order to give more accurate information about how to interact with pets, as well as to ward off the poor treatment and surrendering animals out of fear.

Dr. Katie Kuehl is with Washington State University’s Veterinary Clinical Sciences program. In an interview with The Seattle Times, she says that information about companion animals contracting the virus indicates that they are a dead-end host. That means that once they catch it, it doesn’t spread past them. She says that to better keep animals and families safe, understanding this more and having more detailed information would help.

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When the pandemic first began, people worried not only about giving the coronavirus to their pets, but also whether they could contract it from them. The concern about cross-contamination at dog parks or even at the vet’s office/kennels was valid. People also worried about how asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus could affect companion pets.

Initially, experts believed we couldn’t be infected by nor infect our pets. As a few cases of animals showed positive results, however, some again began worrying about risk to pets and people. Sadly, the risks also included abandonment, domestic violence and opportunistic adoption in addition to the disease itself.

Their study will look at samples from at least 100 companion animals–ferrets, dogs, cats and hamsters–in homes where one or more people tested positive for COVID-19. They’ll look at how much time humans spend with their animals, as well as whether they allowed their pets to sleep with them, eat from their plates and so on. They’ll also test the animals for positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Current recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Association does not suggest routine testing for SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19, as there is no evidence that the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 is significant.

Until more is known, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention does offer guidelines about pet/human interactions in this day and age, as well as how to protect our pets best.