COVID-19 impact: No proof that pets can give humans virus

Updated: Apr 10, 2020, 08:45 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

But, vets say owners must take precautions and call the doctor if pet exhibits any symptoms

Ever since the four-year-old Malayan tiger - Nadia - tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo in New York, medical experts have sought to seek, understand, and explain if the novel new Coronavirus affects animals. Two of Mumbai's renowned veterinarians, Dr Colonel J C Khanna and Dr Hitesh Swali say that although there is no evidence that the virus can be passed on from animals to humans, there are certain precautions that pet owners and animal feeders must take amid the current pandemic.

Dr Swali said that many people were coming to him, confused about an older coronavirus vaccine for dogs that has always been available in the market and was administered only to a specialised group of dogs. "There is a coronavirus vaccine for dogs but this is meant for the older viruses like SARS, not for COVID-19. It doesn't come under the core set of compulsory vaccinations, such as that of rabies, distemper, etc. It was administered only to a certain section of dogs, primarily breeds like Rottweilers and Doberman that are more prone to the disease," Dr Swali said.

He also added that cats are more prone than dogs to COVID-19 virus, but as of now, "we do not have enough testing material to take any conclusive calls as to how the virus affects animals, but the chances that it was passed on from a human to the animal are pretty high."

According to Colonel Khanna, however, said,, "As of now there is no official record that the virus can be transmitted from animal to humans," he said.

Dr Swali said that another thing pet owners were not realising is that the hand sanitisers and disinfectants currently in use could be harmful for their pets. Owners must, therefore, report any unusual behaviour to their vets immediately, he added.

Precautions while dealing with pets

  • Wash your hand after handling pet food supplies
  • Stay in contact with your vet in case of any change of behaviour in your pet
  • Sick or suspected sick people should not come into contact with pets
  • Avoid kissing and licking or even sharing food with pets

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