WSAVA updates COVID-19 and Pets Advisory

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pets and COVID-19

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has updated its Advisory following further information from the Hong Kong SAR Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) on the dog of an infected owner that has tested ‘weakly positive’ for COVID-19.  

The new information contained in the Advisory is as follows:

Reports from Hong Kong on February 28 indicated that the pet dog of an infected patient had tested ‘weakly positive’ to COVID-19 after routine testing. On March 5, the Hong Kong SAR Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) reported that nasal, oral, rectal and faecal samples from the dog have been tested. On February 26 and 28, oral and nasal swabs were positive, while on March 2, only nasal swabs showed positive results. The rectal and faecal samples tested negative on all three occasions. 

Testing at both the government veterinary laboratory (AFCD) and the WHO accredited diagnostic human CoV laboratory at Hong Kong University (HKU) detected a low viral load in the nasal and oral swabs. 

Both laboratories used the real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method and the results indicate that there was a small quantity of COVID-19 viral RNA in the samples. It does not, however, indicate whether the samples contain intact virus particles which are infectious, or just fragments of the RNA, which are not contagious. 

The dog, which is showing no relevant clinical signs, was removed from the household, which was the possible source of contamination on 26 February. Re-testing was performed after the dog was put under quarantine to determine whether the dog was, in fact, infected or whether its mouth and nose were being contaminated with COVID-19 virus from the household. 

The AFCD’s document states that there is still no evidence at this time that mammalian pet animals including dogs and cats could be a source of infection to other animals or humans. 

WSAVA urges pet owners in areas where there are known human cases of COVID-19 to continue to follow the information in its Advisory, including washing their hands when interacting with their pets and, if sick, wearing face masks around them.

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