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Covid sufferers should avoid their dogs

Issue: 16/07/2021

owners with Covid-19 should avoid their dogs while they are infected, new research has suggested. 
Scientists in The Netherlands have found that coronavirus is common in dogs whose owners have the disease. Dr Els Broens of Utrecht University said, ‘If you have Covid-19, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people. The main concern, however, is not the animals’ health, they had no or mild symptoms of Covid-19, but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population.
‘Fortunately, to date no pet-to-human transmission has been reported. So, despite the rather high prevalence among pets from Covid-19-positive households in this study, it seems unlikely that pets play a role in the pandemic.’
The study visited the homes of owners who had tested positive for Covid-19. The researchers took swabs from 156 dogs and 154 cats from 196 households and used the swabs in PCR tests. Six cats and seven dogs (4.2 percent) had positive tests and 31 cats and 23 dogs (17.4 percent) tested positive for antibodies.
Dogs and cats that lived in the same homes as PCR tested positive pets were also tested to see of the virus is transmitted among pets. None of these animals tested positive, suggesting the virus is not passed between pets living in close contact with one another.
However, the researchers believe their findings show Covid-19 is highly prevalent in pets of people who have the disease.
A French study recently concluded that dogs can contract the Alpha (or Kent) variant of Covid-19 whilst researchers in Texas detected the Alpha variant in a dog and cat that lived in the same home. Professor James Wood, head of the department of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge said that the studies were consistent with, ‘a growing number of studies that are suggesting that a substantial proportion of pet cats and dogs may catch SARS-CoV-2 virus [which causes Covid-19] from their owners. He added, ‘Cats and dogs may commonly be infected with the virus, but most reports are that this infection appears to be asymptomatic. It also seems that the virus does not normally transmit from dogs and cats to either other animals or their owners. These studies need to be differentiated from earlier work that has reported a very small number of individual cats and dogs to be unwell after they caught Covid-19 from their owners.’


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