CityU veterinarians: No evidence humans catch Covid-19 via pets

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CityU’s veterinary medicine experts are paying close attention to a recent case of a dog that tested weak positive for Covid-19. They respond to the relevant media enquiries as follows:

Regarding risk of pet animals becoming infected with Covid-19

  • No evidence to show dogs and cats get sick from the novel coronavirus
  • Pet owners can be assured that there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) can make dogs or cats sick. 
  • Pet owners should continue to take normal precautions such as washing hands after handling pets. There are rumors of some owners abandoning their pets because of concerns for human safety but such fears are misplaced. It is very important for owners to understand that there are no known risks of humans contracting Covid-19 from their pets.
  • Previous experience with SARS suggests that cats and dogs who come into contact with the new virus will neither become ill nor transmit the virus to humans or other pets.
  • We are keeping a close eye on the development of the recent case of a dog belonging to a patient infected with the Covid-19 disease that tested weak positive to the virus. We are working closely with related government authorities to learn more about the test methodology so that we can explore more about the situation.
  • We cannot comment on the case of this dog before we have detailed information on the test methodology. However, we strive to offer advice to pet owners as soon as possible.

Regarding the need to quaratine 

  • Measures such as quarantining some pets in light of what is currently known about Covid-19 may seem unnecessary, but at this stage in an evolving disease situation it is vital that people comply. 
  • Although there is currently no evidence that animals can get infected or become sick from Covid-19, surveillance of potentially exposed pets through health monitoring and testing is necessary to allay fears.

Regarding Advice to Pet Owners 

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at present there is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs and cats can be infected with the virus. However, pet owners should always practice good personal hygiene and wash hands with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand sanitiser) after handling animals to avoid exposure to zoonotic diseases.
  • Personal hygiene is a basic infection control measure to prevent the spread of ANY disease, as such we recommend that all people including pet owners follow relevant WHO general guidelines. 
    • Frequently clean hands using alcohol-based hand sanitiser or soap and water (for at least 20 seconds); When coughing and/or sneezing cover the mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or paper tissue – immediately throw the tissue away and wash hands;
    • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and/or cough;
    •  If you have a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing seek medical advice immediately and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
    • Avoid visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, but if you do, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
    • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Media enquiries: Bonnie Chu, Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Science (Tel: 9210 5570).

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