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Your Dog Could Get Coronavirus From You

March 6, 2020

As the number of COVID-19 cases grow in the United States and New York region, some people are wondering basic questions, like “How do I know if I have coronavirus?” or “Can I walk my dog if I have coronavirus?” It turns out that experts don’t recommend you care for your pets if you are ill, especially in light of news that a dog has been infected with the novel coronavirus.

Health authorities in Hong Kong announced on Wednesday that a Pomeranian belonging to a woman with COVID-19 was infected with coronavirus. According to the South China Morning Post, “The Pomeranian, which repeatedly tested ‘weak positive’ since last Friday–suggesting it was surface contamination, with the dog picking up traces of the virus in its nose and mouth rather than being actually infected–will now remain under quarantine with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for further testing.”

Health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee said, “It is positive to tests and has been infected, so it is now quarantined in a centre by the department. Further tests will be conducted and it will not be released until the tests return negative results.”

This is apparently the first known case of human-to-pet transmission of COVID-19. However, officials are quick to emphasize that pets are not known as a transmitter of the disease. The Hong Kong Department of Agriculture declared, “Pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.”

“Members of the public are advised to differentiate that ‘being infected’ does not equal being infectious and capable of spreading the COVID-19 virus. We wish to remind the public that there is no evidence that companion animals can transmit the disease to humans,” the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Animals posted on Facebook. The HKSPA also said that the dog is “currently very healthy and doing well at the quarantine centre.”

A spokesperson for the World Health Organization also said, “Based on past experience with coronaviruses and our current understanding of COVID-19, we do not think common household pets are spreading the disease or making people sick.”

One respiratory disease expert told the SCMP that it seemed unclear if such a positive diagnosis could be made, because it was unclear if blood tests were used to make the confirmation.

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