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A dog in Hong Kong has ‘low-level’ coronavirus infection

Don’t worry: This doesn’t mean you should fear your pets

Mar 6, 2020, 5:56 pm*

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Alexandra Samuels 

Alexandra Samuels

A pet dog in Hong Kong has a “low-level” infection of the coronavirus, in what authorities believe may be the first known human-to-animal transmission of the illness that has sickened thousands of people worldwide.

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Multiple reports say the dog belongs to a 60-year-old woman who developed symptoms on Feb. 12 and later tested positive for COVID-19. The animal is the only canine in the world with a confirmed infection, said Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program. 

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A spokesman for the federal Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department said the dog—an older male—has not shown any signs of disease related to COVID-19. The dog is still under quarantine, but not sick, the department reports. 

Still, authorities say you shouldn’t be worried about you or other people’s pets.

“Apart from maintaining good hygiene practices, pet owners need not be overly concerned, and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets,” the department said.

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Gail Golab, chief veterinary officer with the American Veterinary Medical Association, told the Washington Post that the dog’s lack of symptoms could mean it “has a low level of infection, but that replication of the virus in the dog has not been sufficient to cause the dog to become ill.” 

Another expert told the New York Times that even if there’s a low-level coronavirus infection in a dog, that doesn’t mean it can spread the virus. 

Experts still recommend that pet owners take basic hygiene precautions: hand washing before and after being around animals, avoiding kissing them and restricting contact with them when you’re sick.

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H/T Washington Post

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*First Published: Mar 6, 2020, 5:46 pm