SARS-CoV-2 and domestic animals, including pets
I received an email notification from what used to be my local human society in Toledo, Ohio. This was alarming as it pointed out that people were being misinformed about the safety of keeping their pets with them if the human contracted COVID-19. I had not been following any issues with animals which are pets being involved in the viral outbreak. Certainly, our pets are family members and we will take care of them as usual if COVID-19 comes into our domestic picture. The first quoted material below is from the Toledo Human Society and the second information is from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Please take time to read both articles/quotes and become informed about this important aspect of the COVID-19. You will not need to abandon your pet if you have COVID-19 but will need to make arrangements for their care if/while you are ill…..Carol
Human Society of Toledo: “In light of recent announcements made regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, more importantly Ohio, THS must take this information and make the best decisions for the safety of our staff, volunteers, and visitors.
As the only animal welfare organization in Lucas County who investigates animal cruelty, we cannot cease operations as too many lives depend on us. THS must continue to focus on adopting animals into loving homes in order to make room for more in need.
The CDC has released statements encouraging individuals in quarantine to distance themselves from companion pets, and if needed,THS will be on standby for any increase of homeless animals that need us.
Please note: that there is currently no evidence that our pets can contract or transmit COVID-19. We ask that families include their pets in their emergency preparedness plan.
THS prides itself on good sanitation practices, as preventing the spread of contagious disease is one very important aspect of our jobs here at the shelter. We have multiple hand-washing sinks around the building that we highly encourage our guests to use, as well as, hand sanitizer.
At the recommendation of the CDC, we ask that any ill staff, visitors and volunteers to please remain home. We also want to encourage people who visit the Toledo Humane Society to please only visit us if you are ready to adopt in order to limit the number of visitors entering the shelter.
At this time we will suspend any “large” gatherings that are deemed unnecessary at the shelter, including but not limited to, all of our children’s programs and birthday parties. We will reevaluate the situation on April 1st and will continue to update the public as needed. Please stay informed by following our Facebook page.
We know that this is a stressful time for so many right now as new information is developing each day. We will continue to stay informed and make any necessary changes based on public health recommendations.
During this time, THS will have an increased need for foster homes as we anticipate that fewer adoptions may take place over the next few weeks or maybe even months. While we hope this is not the case, we want to be prepared so we can continue to help those that need us. If you are interested in fostering please visit our website at: https://www.toledohumane.org/become-a-pet-foster-parent/
We thank everyone for their patience with these temporary changes in our protocol. We must remain calm and mindful during this time.”
This is a quote from the American Veterinary Medical Association: “On Thursday, February 27, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) reported that samples obtained on February 26 from the nasal and oral cavities of a pet dog (a 17-year-old Pomeranian whose owner had been diagnosed with COVID-19) had tested “weak positive” for SARS-CoV-2, using a real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) test. A fecal sample was negative. Testing was repeated on February 28, March 2, and March 5 with continued “weak positive” results (nasal and oral sample, nasal sample, nasal sample, respectively). The RT PCR test is sensitive, specific, and does not cross-react with other coronaviruses of dogs or cats. A “weak positive” result suggests a small quantity of SARS-CoV-2 RNA was present in the samples, but doesn’t distinguish between RNA detected from intact virus and fragments of RNA. The RT PCR testing was conducted by the laboratories of the AFCD and the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong. The latter is an accredited reference laboratory for the WHO for the testing of SARS-COV-2. Testing from both laboratories yielded the same results.
Experts from the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences of the City University of Hong Kong, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) believe the consistency and persistence of the results suggest the pet dog may have a low-level of infection with the virus. While officials have said this may be a case of human-to-animal transmission, this is still speculative and further testing is being conducted.
This pet dog is one of two pet dogs currently under quarantine in separate rooms in a facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge; the second pet dog has had negative results of tests for the virus.
The pet dogs are being cared for and neither has shown any signs of being ill with COVID-19. Furthermore, infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations (CDC, OIE, WHO) agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.
Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals (other than source bats) becoming sick with COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. If you are ill with COVID-19, be sure to tell your physician and public health official that you have a pet or other animal in your home. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet or service animal. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. Additional guidance on managing pets in homes where people are sick with COVID-19 is available from the CDC.
For responsible pet owners, preparing in advance is key. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Usually we think about emergency kits like this in terms of what might be needed for an evacuation, but it’s also good to have one prepared in the case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.
While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember there is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.”