On Wednesday, 4th March 2020, local health officials confirmed that a pet dog in Hong Kong has contracted coronavirus from its owner. It is believed to be the first known human to animal disease transmission case.
A spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fishery and Conservation Department (AFCD) said in a statement that the pooch was placed in quarantine at an animal facility after three tests confirmed. It came down to a ‘low-level infection’ of the COVID-19 virus – though it showed no signs of illness.
The spokesperson stressed that there is currently no evidence that pets could become sick once infected or they would even be a source of the virus. However, the pets of the households of confirmed cases should be placed in the quarantine, advices the department.
The AFCD spokesperson said, “Apart from maintaining good hygiene practices, pet owners need to not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.”
The dog was first tested on 26th February 2020 for the first time and low levels of corona was found from its nasal and oral samples a day later. An initial analysis suggested that the virus could have simply been present on the dog’s fur and wasn’t actually infected.
The department added that two repeat tests earlier this week resulted in ‘weak positive’ for the virus. Once the dog is tested repeatedly and the result is negative, it will be returned to its owner.
“People who are sick should restrict contacting animals,” said the statement. “if there are any changes in the health conditions of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible.”