In light of the scary circumstances we find ourselves in, I wanted to help shed some light on the CoronaVirus, precautions to take, and how we can protect our fur-family members as well. The worst thing we can do in these unsettling times is to spread inaccurate or misleading information. We need to sift through the garbage and find credible, reliable, and practical information. This blog post and the information it contains is from the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. The article includes information compiled from Oregon's Public Health Veterinarian, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please use this article to educate yourselves and other pet owners. In the meantime, stay calm, be safe, and help each other. We can get through this, together.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. Some are mild, such as the common cold, while others are more likely to lead to pneumonia. They're usually spread through direct contact with an infected person.
The coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface (“corona” in Latin translates to “crown”). The genus coronavirus is composed of at least three groups that cause mild to severe enteric, respiratory, or systemic disease. Other well-known coronaviruses are SARS and MERS.
Coronaviruses are common in several species of domestic and wild animals, including cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ferrets, camels, bats, and others.
Although not common, coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans. Bats can be reservoir hosts for viruses which can cross species barriers to infect humans and other domestic and wild mammals.
In the last two major coronaviruses that were transmitted to humans, transmission occurred through intermediate hosts: the masked palm civet (SARS) and dromedary camels (MERS).
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV), now known officially as COVID-19 or Corona Virus Disease, is thought to have originated in bats and transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host. Investigations are still ongoing.
According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats have become ill with this virus or will become a source of infection of COVID-19 in other animals or humans.
In late February 2020, Hong Kong authorities quarantined a dog after samples from the dog's nasal cavity and mouth tested "weak positive" for the virus. The dog’s owner had tested positive for COVID-19. The dog did not show signs of illness. Authorities believe it is a case of human to animal transmission but stress that it is not cause for alarm.
It's important to remember that viruses can sometimes infect a species but not cause illness in that species, nor become transmissible to others. Again, it is not believed that pets such as cats or dogs can pass COVID-19 to humans.
And, as far as realistic risk factors—if, for instance, your dog is usually at home and doesn't contact other dogs or people and no one in your household has COVID-19, the odds that your pet would become infected are highly unlikely.
If you have COVID-19, you should restrict your contact with pets and other animals, just like you would with other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask as directed by your physician.
As a matter of everyday health, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets to help avoid transmission of more common illness-causing agents, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
If you contract this illness or have symptoms consistent with this infection and your pet needs veterinary care, please CALL your veterinary clinic or emergency veterinary hospital first. They may be able to accommodate your situation by coming out to your car to transport your pet into the clinic for an examination and communicate with you via phone regarding the diagnosis and treatment plan. They may also have other options for you, such as telemedicine, so that your pet can receive needed care during this time.
To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella, parainfluenza and canine influenza, which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets. Your veterinarian can help you determine which vaccines your pet should have, based on its risk factors.
Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines available for humans or animals. The World Health Organization estimates that a vaccine for humans could be available in 12-18 months.
According to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
Masks made for pets may not be effective in preventing diseases transmitted by bodily fluid droplets. To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella, parainfluenza and canine influenza, which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets.
Practical measures to protect yourself and your family from this or any other contagious respiratory illness include:
Thank you to the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association for creating this fantastic article. For more pet health information and to learn more about the CoronaVirus and your kitty, please visit the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.