The cases of coronavirus are becoming more and more numerous around the world. Many Europeans are being asked to stay confined to their homes and to only go out very occasionally, to access care or to shop. However, those who have pets are now wondering: can they contaminate us?
In Asia, a dog tested positive
In Asia, the dog of a woman who had been infected with the coronavirus had tested positive in samples. Indeed, this dog had been strongly exposed to the virus because of its owner. On the other hand, despite the presence of genetic material of the COVID-19 virus, the dog did not seem to present any symptoms. However, can man's best friend get sick and transmit the virus to its owners and other animals?
Can dogs get sick and infect us?
To answer this question, the French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) convened a group of experts. It concluded that, based on current knowledge, there is no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of the virus.
'Although this receptor has been identified in domestic animal species and appears to be capable of interacting with the human virus – and further studies on this subject are needed – the experts reiterate that the receptor's presence is not a sufficient condition for infection in these animals'
Indeed, according to ANSES, the virus remains transmissible mainly by humans:
6422'Since the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus – responsible for the COVID-19 disease – emerged in China in December 2019, the knowledge acquired has shown that its main route of transmission is human-to-human, through contact between people or inhalation of infectious droplets emitted by patients when they sneeze or cough.'
This information has been confirmed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
'The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare'
You can, therefore, rest assured: animals are safe, and are not a threat to the health of their owners.
Shelters are worried about the animal cause
Despite the reassuring words of various organisations, many pet owners are concerned about their pets' health and are not hesitating to abandon them. Yet, like many other professional bodies, many SPCAs have been forced to close their shelters to the public, and fear an ever-increasing number of animals being abandoned, the consequences of which are more than worrying. According to a press release by the French RSPCA
'The closure of the shelters to the public will drastically slow down adoptions. If a massive wave of pet abandonment occurs, it will lead to a massive wave of euthanasia in the pounds, as provided for by the law',
In conclusion, it is important to remember that animals play no role in the spread of the virus, and must be protected by their owners. Abandonment is not a solution and can in no way be considered as a preventive act.