Fact Check World

Experts say pets don’t get coronavirus

After a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, it is quite natural to be worried whether cats, dogs or any other household pets are at risk of getting the virus. Experts on this subject are generally of the opinion that although there have been some cases of animals contracting the virus but the direction of the transmission was from humans to animals and not the other way around. Therefore, there is nothing much to worry about except to ensure that your pets are quarantined in a hygienic environment along with you.

According to Karen Terio, chief of the Zoological Pathology Program at the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine, which assisted in diagnosing the tiger, “A tiger is not a domestic cat, they are a completely different species of cats. To date we have no evidence of the virus being transmitted from a pet to their owners. It’s much, much more likely that an owner could potentially transmit it to their pet.”

Even then, the risk of a pet contracting the virus is low. As per the data released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), globally, only 2 dogs and 2 cats have tested positive for the virus.

It was in February that a dog was first diagnosed with COVID-19 in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department along with veterinary experts at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) concluded it to be a case of human-to-animal transmission. The pet dog belonged to someone who had the virus, and authorities at the Hong Kong Agriculture Department and OIE believe the dog contracted the virus from its owner.

Similarly, according to William Sander, assistant professor of preventive medicine and public health, also at the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine, “Over 1 million human cases at this point worldwide and we’ve only seen 4 domestic animals test positive so far worldwide, so the risk is very minimal to get to pets.”

Now from all the above mentioned opinions based on research and verifiable data, there is no need to worry that any of your pets could be diagnosed with the coronavirus until and unless they have been in contact with someone infected with it.