There has been a lot of talk and worry in the last few days about the coronavirus making its way over to US shores. As a Veterinary clinic, we would like to dispel some of the rumors related to the spread of COVID-19, and give you some quick advice on how to keep you and your pets safe in this stressful time.
What is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
The coronavirus disease 2019 (also called COVID-19 is a viral disease caused by a new strain of the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It was discovered in the Wuhan region of China, but has now spread to more than 100 locations internationally. Infected individuals may have a fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
"The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness."
Can my pet give me COVID-19?
There is NO evidence to suggest that pets can transmit the coronavirus to their owners. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
"Infectious disease experts, as well as the CDC, OIE, and WHO indicate there is no evidence to suggest that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2, including spreading COVID-19 to people."
Can I give my pet COVID-19?
So far, there has only been one case of a dog potentially getting COVID-19. A pomeranian in Hong Kong tested "weak positive" for the virus on multiple oral/ nasal tests. It was likely that he got it from his owner, who already had the virus, although that has yet to be confirmed. While the dog is infected, he was not found to be infectious, meaning that although he has it, he is not able to transmit the virus to other animals or to humans.
So far, this is an isolated case and the evidence does not suggest that people are able to transmit the virus to their pets.
So what can you do to keep you and your pets safe?
Good hygiene practices are key to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds . Regularly disinfect counter tops, door handles and other surfaces that get touched often.
If you do get infected with coronavirus, it's not a bad idea to limit the contact you have with your pet. Although the evidence does NOT suggest that humans can transmit the virus to pets, the CDC still recommends that you treat your animals as though they were any other person that you would interact with. You should wash your hands thoroughly before and after interacting with them, avoid letting them lick your face or sharing food with them, and limit petting or snuggling.
What should I NOT do?
DO NOT surrender your pet to a shelter or abandon them. As we stated up above, your pets pose no known risk to you as carriers of the disease.
Face masks are not necessary unless you already have the virus. They will not keep you from getting infected. Also, it is important for those that have the virus and their caregivers to have access to face masks. Please do not buy them as it makes them hard to get for those that actually do need them.
Most importantly though: Don't panic! There's no need to fill your house with 100 packs of toilet paper and cases upon cases of bottled water. It can certainly be scary to see coronavirus talked about everywhere you turn, especially when sporting events, concerts and other events getting cancelled left and right. However, taking the common sense steps listed above and on the CDC's website will help to keep you and your furry friends safe.
If you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to give us a call at 712.276.5368, and we would be happy to answer them.