For several months now, the whole world has been living at the rhythm of the coronavirus coming from China, which appeared in December 2019 on a market in Wuhan (Hubei Province).
Today, not a single continent has been spared, the virus continues to spread, the Johns Hopkins University has put online an interactive map that allows you to see the extent and spread of the virus.
Countries are organising themselves and taking drastic measures to curb the pandemic: border closures, travel restrictions, closure of schools, public places…
The media reported the case of a dog testing positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong.
Are our dogs in danger? Can our dogs transmit coronavirus to other dogs or to humans? Should you protect your dog from VIDOC-19?
Let us take stock of what we know about the situation.
What is a coronavirus and COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are in fact a large family of viruses that can be pathogenic in humans and animals. In humans, several coronaviruses can cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The last coronavirus that was still unknown before its appearance in Wuhan in China is responsible for coronavirus disease 2019(COVID-19).
Are animals responsible for COVID-19 in humans?
It appears that the main route of transmission of VIDOC-19 is man-to-man.
Current evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus is of animal origin. Ongoing research is essential to identify the animal source (as well as the species involved) and to establish the potential role of an animal reservoir of this disease. There is currently insufficient scientific evidence to identify the source or to explain the route of transmission from an animal source to humans.
Genetic sequencing data reveal that the COVID-19 virus is closely related to other coronaviruses circulating in bats of the genus Rhinolophus (rhinolophers). There is a possibility that transmission to humans involves an intermediate host.
On 29 February 2020, the OIE(World Organisation for Animal Health) received an official report from Hong Kong concerning a dog placed under quarantine following the hospitalisation of its owner infected with coronavirus. The animal showed no specific clinical signs.
Three nasal, oral and rectal swabs as well as faeces samples were taken after the dog was admitted to the quarantine centre.
On February 26th, the nasal and oral samples were positive and on February 28th, two more nasal and oral samples were taken and found to be “weakly positive”.
Although the presence of COVID-19 genetic material was shown in this dog, it showed no clinical signs of disease.
According to the experts, the presence of RNA detected in the nasal and oral cavities is not sufficient evidence to conclude that the animal is infected.
Doctors think the dog caught the virus directly from its owner. However, doctors do not know how the virus was transmitted to the dog, whether through airborne particles, direct contact or bodily fluids.
How do I protect my dog from coronavirus?
Dog owners have started to protect their dogs with a mask on the muzzle.
Keep these masks to yourself in case you get infected!
No need to try to protect your dog from COVID-19 because COVID-19 is not transmissible to dogs or cats.
Avoid contact with sick people for safety. If you yourself are not ill, you have no reason to deprive yourself of hugging or stroking your dog, provided, of course, that he has not been in contact with an infected person!
What precautionary measures should I take with my dog if I have coronavirus?
It is recommended that people with VIDOC-19 limit contact with pets and other animals.
When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be applied (washing hands, wearing masks) and avoid kissing, licking or sharing food.
Your dog won’t get sick and won’t carry the disease, but he could still carry your virus to another person.
Imagine that you are spitting on your dog and your dog is being petted by another person, who does not wash his hands and puts them in his mouth …
Can I still walk my dog?
You have no reason to deprive yourself of walking your dog, provided, of course, that you do not bring yourself or your dog into contact with sick people.
Animals indirectly affected by the pandemic COVID-19
The announcement in the media that a dog had been contaminated by the coronavirus caused massive abandonment of dogs and cats in China.
Quarantine in some parts of the world has also separated owners from their animals, many of whom have not been able to receive the necessary care.
In Australia, a veterinarian has even received phone calls from some panicked owners asking for the euthanasia of their animals for fear that they might transmit the disease to them!
We must keep calm and not fall into psychosis: Pets are not vectors of transmission!
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) mentions that :
“The current spread of COVID-19 is the result of human-to-human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the disease. It is therefore not justified to take measures against pets that could compromise their welfare.”