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Humans can now infect their pets with the coronavirus

A pet dog, a Pomeranian, has tested positive for the virus after its owner came down with the disease in Hong Kong.

Humans can now infect their pets with the coronavirus
[Photo: Adrianna Calvo/Pexels]

If you’ve got the coronavirus or think you may have it, you’re probably following the recommended precautions of self-isolating from your friends and family. But now it appears that infected people need to isolate themselves from their pets as well. That’s because Hong Kong has reported its first human-to-animal transmission of the coronavirus.

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A pet dog, a Pomeranian, has tested positive for the virus after its owner came down with the disease. Officials tested the owner’s dog last week, and it was confirmed that the dog has a “low-level” infection of COVID-19. A statement from Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) says the tests suggest that the dog’s infection is “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission.”

The news that human-to-animal transmission is a worrying one for pet owners, as they can inadvertently infect their animals simply by interacting with them as they normally would. If there is a silver lining, however, it’s that the AFCD says that “there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 [in humans] or that they become sick.” In other words, if an owner does infect their pet, the pet can carry the coronavirus, but it doesn’t look like the disease makes them sick. And as the AFCD stated, it doesn’t look like pets with the coronavirus can pass the infection back on to humans.

The AFCD says that pet owners should maintain good hygiene practices to minimize transmission, but other than doing that there is no need to be “overly concerned” and a department spokesperson emphasized that “under no circumstances should [pet owners] abandon their pets.”

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