DIGITAL FIRST: Can animals get the coronavirus?

News13 Digital First

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Local animal hospitals are in contact with the American Veterinary Medical Association as doctors and researchers work to tackle coronavirus unknowns. An infected patient’s dog testing a ‘weak positive’ overseas has many wondering whether or not animals can spread COVID-19.

Grand Strand Animal Hospital’s Dr. Anderson sees coronavirus in pets across the board but says it’s this specific strand that has owners worried.

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the College of Veterinary Medicine plans to roll out testing specific to the virus this week preparing veterinarians for any type of animal medical response.

“They have recently purchased the necessary equipment to test cats and dogs for this specific virus and is supposed to be available starting March 15,” Dr. Anderson said.

Two dogs in China, both with infected coronavirus owners, have tested positive, but have not become sick. Both have not shown any clinical signs, but they are staying on top of it monitoring these dogs to make sure signs don’t start.

Dr. Anderson says the CDC and AVMA do not think it’s likely these dogs are going to show clinical signs.

Based on past pandemics, animal doctors see these viruses generating different responses in humans and animals.

“I think each virus has its specific problems and own specific treatment and own specific way of spreading… some viruses affect dogs, others affect cats, some both. Some spread humans to dogs and other dogs to humans,” Dr. Anderson said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.” These include viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, and they infect millions of U.S. citizens every year.
 
Dr. Anderson says if symptoms were to arise, supportive care, fluids, and antibiotics would be the only animal treatment as there is no vaccine.

The CDC says there is no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19. Animals can spread other diseases to people. Health officials recommend washing your hands after being around animals. 

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