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Can Pets Be Part of COVID-19 Transmission Chain?

For many families, pets are like the existence of family members.Can the virus spread between humans and pets?


Dogs and cats that develop fever, cough, breathing difficulties or increased eye and nose discharge after contact with a Covid-19 patient must undergo a Corona-virus test by health workers, including a veterinarian, a disease control official in Seoul said at a news conference on Feb. 8. If the test results are positive, the pet will be quarantined at home for 14 days. If the owner is unable to care for the pet due to his or her own reasons, he or she can be sent to a designated animal quarantine facility for quarantine.


Cats are more susceptible to corona-virus than dogs


In April last year, a study jointly conducted by the State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology of Huazhong Agricultural University and Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences showed that 15 cats (14.7%) were positive for the receptor binding domain (RBD) of corona-virus in ELISA tests of 102 cat sera collected after the outbreak of corona-virus in Wuhan. Of the positive samples, 11 had neutralizing antibodies against Novel Corona-virus, with the highest neutralization titers in 3 cats owned by patients with New Corona-virus, suggesting that high school and titers may be due to close contact between cats and patients with New Corona-virus.


There is no evidence of pet transmission to humans


In response to "positive" cases of pets, the World Health Organization has said it is not "unusual" for an animal to be infected in an outbreak of a new disease, following similar cases with SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The WHO does not believe that pet infections will be a factor in the further spread of the disease. Although there have been sporadic cases, the number of pets diagnosed with Corona-virus is "tiny" compared to the total number of people infected so far in the tens of millions.


Experts, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have also stressed that dogs and cats currently pose little risk to people. Previous experience with SARS has shown that cats and dogs do not get sick or transmit the virus to humans. At this stage, there is no evidence of transmission from pets to humans, and the CDC does not recommend routine testing of animals.


Although there is no evidence that pets can transmit the virus, understanding the role of pets in the transmission of the virus is of great significance for prevention and control of the epidemic, given the "long-term coexistence" of Covid-19 with humans. At this stage, it is still important for suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients to avoid contact with pets and other animals.

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