A pet dog belonging to a woman with COVID-19 has contracted a “low-level infection” from its owner, according to news reports from Hong Kong.
The test came back “weak positive” for the Pomeranian owned by a woman who has the virus, according to a statement
The Pomeranian first tested “weak positive” for the virus last week, according to a statement released by the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on Feb. 28.
At the time, however, scientists couldn’t determine whether the animal was truly infected or if it had only picked up traces of the virus from a contaminated surface.
The dog was taken under quarantine and inspected. Officials concluded the dog had a low-level infection. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, dogs and cats were also tested and found to have contracted a low-level infection.
Assuming the dog’s initial diagnosis stands up to scrutiny, pet dogs the world over could potentially become infected with SARS-CoV-2. But they likely wouldn’t get sick. It’s unlikely, officials say, that humans can get COVID-19 by snuggling with their pets or by touching their face.
“We wish to remind the public that there is no evidence that companion animals can transmit the disease to humans,” Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the largest independent animal welfare charity group in Hong Kong, said in a statement, according to the South China Morning Post.
Just in case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people with COVID-19 have someone else walk and care for their companion animals while they are sick. And people should always wash their hands after snuggling with animals anyway, as companion pets can spread other diseases to people, according to the CDC.
“Currently, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare,” the World Organisation for Animal Health added in a statement.