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

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society inundated with new arrivals at this time of the year

Jane Sproull Thomson Special to Black Press In spring the Mountainaire Avian… Continue reading

Consultation for Comox Valley Sewer Service postponed to fall

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission has approved plans to reschedule public engagement… Continue reading

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

442 squadron to perform fly-by over Comox Valley hospital to salute COVID-19 workers

Cormorant helicopter will fly over the hospital at 7 p.m.

Comox Valley Classic Cruisers hitting the road to bring the community together

Residences, hospital, on the list to drive by Thursday night

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

Thieves steal $5,000 worth of cigarettes and candy from semi trailer in Nanaimo

Culprits hit truckload in shipping company storage yard on Old Victoria Road on Monday

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

Sanders plans to talk to his supporters later Wednesday

B.C. faith leaders, Horgan discuss need for virtual religious ceremonies

Leaders were open to providing other ways to celebrate during the pandemic

Emergency COVID-19 funding now available for children with special needs

Funding to be used to help support families through uncertain times of pandemic

Most Read