Nothing in the world is more dangerous than ignorance, so Mr. Spyros Kritas, Professor of Microbiology and Infectious Animal Diseases has recently made an announcement to clear the air and settle the facts.
CORONAVIRUS AND PETS
Coronaviruses are RNAs that are found in many species of animals. Each animal species has its own species of coronavirus, which is not transmitted to other species and causes distinct clinical symptoms. Thus cat’s coronavirus causes infectious peritonitis in cats, pig’s coronavirus causes contagious gastroenteritis in pigs, while another type of pig’s coronavirus causes epidemic diarrhea,bird’s coronavirus causes infectious bronchitis in birds, the dog’s coronavirus cause asymptomatic infection or diarrhoea or even respiratory tract issues in dogs, while cattle’s coronavirus causes winter diarrhea in cattle. None of these species are transmitted to humans. Over the past 20 years, coronaviruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus), and the most recent one – COVID-19 coronavirus- have appeared in humans.
Although it is possible that these viruses originated in animals and jumped to humans, there is not sufficient proof to support that.
What is indisputable is that these three viruses can be easily transmitted between humans . Regarding a recent report of a dog that was diagnosed with coronavirus – belonging to a woman who was ill with COVID-19 in Hong Kong – there is no evidence that this dog was not infected by its owner or an infected surface.
WHO has announced that there are no indications that animals, such as dogs and cats, can be infected with Covid-19 Generally speaking, there is a “barrier” which does not allow the transmission of a virus between different species of animals.
However, it cannot be ruled out that it can’t happen by accident . After all, this is one of the many ways viruses “survive” over time. Chances of a mutation occurring which will allow transmission between different animal species, are theoretically infinitely smaller than the chances of a human being infected by another one.
Therefore, according to current data, animals are not a source or carriers of COVID-19 , nor do they become ill from it so humans are safe when handling domestic or stray animals as long as they follow basic hygiene rules such as washing their hands before and after touching animals, handling their food or personal hygiene items and avoiding kissing the animals.
It goes without saying that pet owners should not abandon their pets during these challenging times. Pet owners should continue to treat their pets well, enjoy their company and keep their environment clean.
With regards to COVID-19 precautions , everyone should stay informed and make sure to follow the instructions given by scientists as well as follow basic hygiene rules (eg proper hand washing with soap, avoiding gatherings). It is also important to be considerate and respectful of others by avoiding infecting them when we are ill. This too shall pass, just like it happened in the case is the seasonal flu.
Spyros K. Kritas Professor of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases of Animals Department of Veterinary Medicine, School of Health Sciences AUTh