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New Info on a COVID-19 Positively Tested Dog in Hong Kong


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The release below today is from the Government of Hong Kong Administrative region on March 26 with additional science that while it’s possible for dogs to carry the COVID-19 virus and be infected, even in one case developing an immune response, they don’t become ill or infectious to people or for that matter other pets.

“findings indicate that dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there is no evidence that they play a role in the spread of the virus,”spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Hong Kong

Overall, this remains good news, and there was even more a concern regarding cats, no cats tested positive in the Hong Kong study. This is a small sample. Definitely, it would be nice if dogs and cats in New York City or elsewhere in homes with positive COVID-19 patients are tested. Still, it’s encouraging that – so far – no veterinarian (aside from the instances in Hong Kong) have noted a companion animal positive for COVID-19, and those animals demonstrated no signs of illness. Also, IDEXX, the diagnostic lab, has tested thousands of dogs/cats in U.S. without a single positive.

Here’s the release verbatim.

A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (March 26) that the latest positive serology test results of the Pomeranian which previously tested weak positive for COVID-19 virus proved that the dog had been infected with the virus.

Virus isolation was performed on previous samples taken from the Pomeranian with a negative result, indicating that no live virus was retrieved. This is in line with the amount of virus genetic material in the samples. Further serological testing has been conducted at the World Health Organization reference laboratory at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) on the blood sample taken on March 3 and the final test result is positive. This indicates that the Pomeranian had developed an immune response to the viral infection with antibodies found in the blood. Veterinary experts and scientists from the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences of City University of Hong Kong, as well as the School of Public Health of the HKU, have concluded that the result further supported that the Pomeranian has been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

The spokesman also stressed that these cases of infection in dogs appear to be infrequent. As at yesterday (March 25), the AFCD has conducted tests on 17 dogs and eight cats from households with confirmed COVID-19 cases or persons in close contact with confirmed patients, and only two dogs had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

These findings indicate that dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there is no evidence that they play a role in the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, as COVID-19 is a newly emerged disease and the situation is still evolving, the AFCD is taking a precautionary approach in quarantining animals (mammals, including cats and dogs) from households with confirmed COVID-19 human cases.

The spokesman reminded pet owners to adopt good hygiene practices (including hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them) and to maintain a clean and hygienic household environment. People who are sick should restrict contacting animals. If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible. There is currently no evidence that pet animals become sick and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.

Dr. Michael Lappin, chair of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association One Health Committee and Dr. Mary Marcondes, Co-Chair of the WSAVA Scientific Advisory Committee recommend that pet owners:

  • keep their companion animals with them if they are self-quarantined
  • maintain good hygiene practices, including washing hands when interacting with their pets
  • arrange care for any animals left at home with family or friends should they be hospitalized
  • contact their veterinarian immediately if they have questions or concerns.

The American Veterinary Medical Association writes, “Considering this information in total, infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.”

Keep up to date regarding pets and COVID-19 from the American Veterinary Medical Association, www.avma.org/coronavirus.

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