The Hong Kong government says cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners, in a March 13, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

More information needed after dog’s weak positive COVID-19 test result: expert

Experts say there’s no evidence they can transmit the disease to humans

Animal lovers may be wondering if their pets can be carriers of the new coronavirus, but experts say there’s no evidence they can transmit the disease to humans.

Prof. Scott Weese of the University of Guelph’s veterinary college said it wasn’t surprising that a dog in Hong Kong tested weakly positive for the virus in samples from its nose and mouth.

“What we need to figure out is was that a really rare thing to happen with that dog or is it common and we haven’t identified yet,” Weese said in a recent interview.

“The big question from the public health standpoint is yes, the dog was infected, but does that mean it is infectious?”

The animal was a weak positive, which might means the infection wasn’t great enough to be passed on but more information is needed, he said.

ALSO READ: Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tests positive for COVID-19 — PMO

The Hong Kong government says pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners.

Hong Kong’s agricultural department said it found no evidence pets were a source of infection or could get sick themselves with the COVID-19 illness. But it suggested pets from a household of an infected person be quarantined.

In general, pet owners should maintain good hygiene, including washing hands before and after handling their animals, their food and supplies, experts advise. People who are sick should avoid contact with pets and a veterinarian should be contacted if changes in a pet’s health conditions are detected.

Weese said experts were anticipating a little more risk with cats because SARS, which is closely related to the new coronavirus, was able to infect felines.

“And cats could transmit it cat to cat. So that’s my main concern with this virus would be getting into cats.”

ALSO READ: Parliament suspended, more closures amid COVID-19 recession warning

Weese said there hasn’t been any research on whether the virus can jump between species of pets.

“It originally went from animal to person,” he said.

“The question is, has it become a completely human virus or an almost completely human virus or does it have the ability to infect another species and that’s where we don’t know.”

Pets can get various respiratory infections where they cough, have flu-like symptoms for a few days and then they recover, he said, adding that animals to be concerned about are those with underlying problems as well as young or older pets.

Experts are concerned about the virus and livestock, he said.

“The more we can prevent people from exposing animals, the less we have to worry about this,” he said.

“So if a farmer doesn’t get exposed then we don’t have to worry about their livestock.”

ALSO READ: B.C. vet stresses need for pet hygiene despite COVID-19 risk being low

Research is being done internationally on animal models, including looking at infections in different species, he said.

“We know an exceptional amount considering how new this is but there’s still so many areas that need to be studied and the animal side, that definitely needs to be done,” Weese said.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province, feds reject Library-Art Gallery grant application

Project proponents adament the project is not dead, will seek alternative funding opportunities

Update from the medical community in Smithers, April 3rd, 2020

Local M.D.s grateful for public’s efforts during COVID-19 pandemic, urge continued vigilance

North District RCMP see massive spike in domestic calls

Connection to COVID-19 pandemic likely for reduced call volume, increased severity

School meals program continues

SD54 schools now providing bag breakfast, lunch and snacks for students and hampers for families

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

Girl Guide cookies available at No Frills

The annual door-to-door sales campaign was cancelled due to COVID-19

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Most Read