Coronavirus: Are transmissions from humans to animals possible?

A dog was quarantined in Hong Kong because it had a low-level COVID-19 infection

Published: Monday 09 March 2020

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) was transmitted from animals to humans. However, questions on whether COVID-19 could be transmitted from humans to animals emerged after a pet dog was quarantined in Hong Kong.

The World Health Organization (WHO), did not confirm the occurence of any such transmission, adding that there was no evidence yet on whether companion animals and pets could become carriers of the virus.

While cats and dogs were said to be safe from COVID-19, there were other strains of the coronavirus that could make them sick.

Strains that could cause diarrhea in young puppies could lead to flu-like symptoms. Other strains that affect cats, lead to diarrhea and life-threatening conditions like Feline infectious peritonitis.

None of these strains were known to affect humans.

The WHO, however, advised washing hands frequently, especially after touching animals, as they could carry pathogens that harm humans.

The dog that was quarantined in Hong Kong because of a low-level COVID-19 infection on February 26, 2020, was an isolated case, according to the city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation department.

However, it could also be the first known instance of a human transmitting the disease to an animal. The canine’s oral and nasal swabs tested positive for the virus, while its rectal swabs were negative.

 Authorities initially thought this was because of environmental contamination. Subsequent tests, however, confirmed that the dog carried the virus.

The dog was in good health and showed none of the symptoms that affected human patients.

The dog in question belonged to a patient suffering from COVID-19.

Hong Kong has put in place measures to quarantine pets of all those who were infected with COVID-19 for 14 days.

More than 109 countries were affected by the outbreak as of March 9, 2020, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. South Korea, Italy and Iran were the worst hit after China.

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