Is there any possibility of Corona virus (COVID-19) transmission between pets and humans?
At a time when the world is battling the pandemic of the novel Corona virus (SARS-CoV2) it is important to have a basic understanding about this virus if we are to conquer this. We appreciate the questioner for sending us this important question at a critical juncture.
The novel Coronavirus; SARS-CoV2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Corona Virus 2) was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. The disease caused by this virus is called COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019). The possible animal source of COVID-19 has not yet been confirmed. The recent ﬁndings show that SARS-CoV-2 is 96% identical to a bat coronavirus.
Sometimes the viruses which are found in animals can infect humans. Such infections can occur through various means. For instance, direct or indirect contact with an infected animal or through a vector or through food and water.
The transmission of COVID-19 virus between humans occurs primarily through the respiratory droplets. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks; tiny droplets are emitted from his/her mouth and nose. These droplets will contain millions of virus particles. When this particle reaches the mouth, nose or eyes of another individual then it can cause disease in that person.
During this pandemic several dogs and cats (domestic cats and a tiger) have tested positive for COVID-19 virus following close contact with infected humans. But until today there is no evidence that these animals can transmit the disease to humans.
It is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 and people who are at risk should limit their contact with companions and other animals. When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing after handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.
In summary, although few animals have contracted the COVID-19 virus, there is no evidence of reverse transmission to humans. However, due to our limited knowledge on the novel coronavirus, it is best for people at risk to limit contact with animals and follow general hygienic measures.
- Ahmad, Tauseef, Muhammad Khan, Taha Musa, Saima Nasir, Jin Hui, D Bonilla-Aldana, and Alfonso Rodriguez-Morales. 2020. “COVID-19: Zoonotic aspects.” Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease In Press: 101607. doi:10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101607.
- Biscayart, Cristian, Patricia Angeleri, Susana Lloveras, Tânia Do, Socorro Chaves, Patricia Schlagenhauf, and Alfonso Rodriguez-Morales. 2020. “The next big threat to global health? 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): What advice can wegive to travellers? – Interim recommendations January 2020, from the Latin-American society forTravel Medicine (SLAMVI).” Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease 33 (1): 101567. doi:10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101567.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2017. Zoonotic Diseases. Accessed May 1, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html.
- WHO. 2020. Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). Accessed April 28, 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses.
- World Organisation for Animal Health. 2020. Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Accessed April 28, 2020. https://www.oie.int/en/scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/questions-and-answers-on-2019novel-coronavirus/.