Picture: 123RF/OLEG DUDKO
Picture: 123RF/OLEG DUDKO

Animal lovers have expressed concern about the safety of their pets as SA battles rising cases of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19.

“There have been cases of humans passing on the Sars-CoV-2 virus, causing Covid-19 in pets,” says Leon de Bruyn‚ president of the SA Veterinary Association (SAVA). “This can include cats‚ occasionally dogs‚ as well as exotic pets like ferrets and minks‚ felids‚ pigs and primates. Once infected, pets can pass the virus on to other members of the species‚” de Bruyn told TimesLIVE.

Which are more susceptible, dogs or cats?

Cats are more likely to contract the virus. Asked whether there was data showing pet-to-owner transmission of Covid-19‚ de Bruyn said dogs and cats play a minor role in spreading the virus to people‚ but there have been cases of transmission from minks.

“There are some indications from viral genetic tests that infected mink on mink farms may have infected people on the farm,” he said. “However‚ we have no proven evidence that pets can pass on Covid-19 to humans. Since we suspect bats to be the origin of the virus‚ I would, however, be careful in the unlikely event of having a bat as a pet‚” he said.

What if you have pets and test positive for Covid-19?

Maintaining social distancing and personal protective equipment is imperative for pet owners who test positive for Covid-19.

“The Covid-19 positive human may contaminate a pet’s coat without infecting the animal. The contaminated coat may be infectious to other humans who come into contact with the pet,” de Bruyn said. “It therefore makes sense for the Covid-19 owner to wear PPE when close to the pet and maintain distance where possible. If the owner has contact with the pet‚ then it should be washed with a foaming shampoo.”

Does my pet need to get vaccinated?

Research on the impact of Covid-19 on animals is continuing, but De Bruyn says vaccination for the animals is “unlikely.”

Source: ARENA Holdings.

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