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

Unemployment up, Kelowna loses 2,000 jobs in March: StatCan

March unemployment rate 5.9 per cent, highest in Kelowna since January 2018

Peachland residents living in lockdown in central Philippines

Kevin and Gracelyn Bennett have been in the Philippines since December

Kelowna toddler officially cancer-free

Elara Isagawa’s family is thanking the community for their support throughout her treatment

Central Okanagan School District provides nearly 7,000 meals to students

Families collect the entire week’s supply of breakfasts and lunches at once to minimize contact

Kelowna cannabis company moves to hand sanitizer production

The Valens Company plans to distribute 40,000 sanitizer bottles to frontline workers across Canada

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

Law enforcement will patrol shuttered campgrounds in Cascades this weekend

Patrols will enforce provincial order requiring all such facilities remain closed during COVID-19

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

Campfires still permitted in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

Restrictions have been implemented elsewhere within valley

Summerland parks remain open for passive use

Users urged to maintain physical distancing to slow spread of COVID-19

Okanagan Indian Band asks visitors to ‘stay away’ during COVID-19

Chief and council asks non-residents not to visit OKIB reserve lands during the pandemic

Would-be visitors to Shuswap over the long weekend asked to stay home

Regional district follows provincial health officer’s lead in telling citizens to stay put this Easter

Shuswap’s Salty Dog Enduro mountain bike race postponed to 2021

Organizers follow direction from provincial/national bodies to cancel May event

Most Read