Humans-Pets Contact Results Transmission of COVID-19
The first case of human and pets followed the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported from Hong Kong. The pet dog was infected by his owner who tested “week positive” on February 28. The Pomeranian dog, who showed no symptoms, picked up the virus through nose and mouth.
This caused a fear among people and the Hong Kong authorities issued a warning to avoid kissing their pets but also to not abandon them. The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said, “Pet owners are reminded to adopt good hygiene practices (including handwashing 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.”
The 17-year-old dog died on March 16, but it was not confirmed if it was because of COVID-19 as the dog had tested negative after quarantine at a government facility. Chances are it was probably due to old age.
On March 18, a two-year-old German shepherd also tested positive for COVID-19 after its Hong Kong owner was infected in another likely case of human-to-animal transmission. The dog is under quarantine.
WHO, Social Distancing and Hygiene
Now coming to India, Within days of the COVID-19 outbreak, hundreds of pets in Mumbai became strays. People started abandoning their loved dogs and cats on the streets. (Clearly not loved in that case) Why? Because the World Health Organisation, WHO, the international agency which is spearheading the fight against the pandemic put out on its India website warnings like Keep Away From Pets and Keep Away From Wild and Farm Animals. Promptly, around 17 civic bodies in Mumbai started making announcements and putting up hoarding and pamphlets, with images of dogs, cats, chicken, and bats. By this, it meant to maintain a distance and hygiene but clearly the wrong message went into people’s heads.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope issued an advisory, on March 21, to not abandon pets because of the fear of coronavirus.
According to The World Health Organisation, there is no evidence that a pet dog or cat can pass the new coronavirus or become sick from it. However, there is evidence that the virus could live on surfaces such as your pet’s fur for some time, which is why it is advisable to minimize close contact with your animal.
You should restrict contact with your pet, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Have another family member take care of your pet only if you test positive for the virus.
However, a silvering is how so many families came forward to give shelter to the abandoned pets even in these trying times of lockdown and limited supplies.
Stay safe of COVID19 and false information!
Written By: Darshini Arunachalam
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