Still no evidence of animal-to-human COVID transmission

Animal health professionals should encourage kindness amidst the pandemic to minimize unnecessary animal relinquishment

Veterinarians should continue to assure clients they will not contract COVID from their furry friends.

This is according to a recent webinar presented by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) that reconfirmed the status of SARS-Cov-2 as a reverse zoonoses humans can transfer to pets, but not the other way around. Veterinary professionals are advised to preach kindness to owners whose animals have tested positive for the virus and discourage relinquishment of the pets.

Since COVID’s emergence, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed more than 28 million cases in humans worldwide, including over 900,000 deaths. By comparison, “very few” companion animals have tested positive for the virus.

Further, dogs and cats both have demonstrated “robust antibody” response to COVID and typically display no symptoms. Felines shed the virus for a short period of time and could possibly transmit the disease to other cats, while canines do not shed live virus, WSAVA says.

Michael Lappin, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM, the chair of the association’s One Health Committee, says further data is being collected to explore whether the clinical illness in naturally infected dogs or cats is common or important, adding it is still unclear whether these animals require specific treatment.

“The other panelists and I hope the content of the webinar can be used to improve the welfare and health of companion animals,” Dr. Lappin says. “We look forward to working together to provide additional updates to WSAVA membership as new information becomes available.”

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