Home U.K. Fears dogs and cats could be coronavirus 'super spreaders' as virologist questions...

Fears dogs and cats could be coronavirus 'super spreaders' as virologist questions safety

After a tiger in a New York City zoo tested positive for coronavirus, fears have arisen over the safety of pets and pet owners during the pandemic. Answering viewer questions on the BBC, virologist Dr Chris Smith confirmed animals can catch the virus. The expert also warned it remains unknown if owners could be at risk from their own pets.

Dr Smith told viewers: “The advice wasn’t that dogs couldn’t catch the coronavirus.

“In fact, there was a case report from Hong Kong where a Pomeranian caught the virus.

“It then tested positive for it over a number of days.

“So the scientists were comfortable that it was catching and was infected with the agent.”

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Coronavirus warning: Pet owners at risk of infection from potential animal super-spreaders (Image: BBC)

coronavirus uk news pet owners risk animals covid (Image: BBC)

He continued: “It’s thought that puppy caught it from its owner.

“So we’re pretty comfortable that animals might catch this.

“What we don’t know is if this is a two-way street.

“If it goes into the dog, can the dog or the cat or whatever else catches it, then give it back to its owner or another owner or a family member?”

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coronavirus uk news pet owners risk animals covid (Image: BBC)

The virologist said: “We don’t know how infectious these animals are yet, we just know that potentially they could become infected.

“It is an important question though because when it comes to infection control, we may keep our social distance but cats, as well all know if you’ve ever owned one, go roaming from one house to another and dogs go and sniff everything they possibly can.

“So they could end up being vectors or super-spreaders for this.”

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Dr Smith added: “These are important questions that we’re going to have to answer quite soon.”

Ron Kennedy from Glasgow also submitted a question, asking if humans are at risk of infection from our own cats and dogs.

Dr Smith told the BBC: “Potentially yes, and that’s where the issue lies.

“At the moment, people are doing these tests, they can prove that the animals potentially are getting infected.

“What we don’t know is if they are sufficiently infectious to secrete the virus back into the environment, back into the air or in licks and kisses they give their owners and potentially transmit it back in the other direction.”

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