A dog belonging to a coronavirus victim in Hong Kong may be the first canine to catch the poorly understood and still-spreading viral illness.
The dog was reported to the city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) two days ago after receiving a referral from the Health Department. The initial report from RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) did not mention the breed of the dog - later determined to be a Pomerainian - but did state its owner (Yvonne Chow Hau Yee) was suffering from the highly-infectious pathogen.
“The dog does not have any relevant symptoms,” according to the AFCD, but nasal and oral cavity samples did test “weak positive” for the coronavirus. It should be noted that humans infected with COVID-19 may exhibit mild to severe symptoms, and in some cases the virus has been spread by infected people who did not show any symptoms.
This is possibly the first such case of a pet (not the dog in the image above) catching the coronavirus infection from a human owner. Up to this point at least, there is no firm evidence that domestic dogs and cats could be infected with the COVID-19 virus, nor that – infected or not - they could spread the virus to people.
It's conceivable that a pet whose fur was exposed to and/or contaminated with COVID-19 could then transmit the virus to people who came into contact with it.
This particular pet won't be coming into contact with anyone, however, now that it's been quarantined for a minimum of 14 days at a facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. AFCD states the dog is the only animal in quarantine at the facility, while staff are taking steps to more thoroughly disinfect the premises.
Last but not least, AFCD advises pet-owners diagnosed with COVID-19 to make arrangements to put their pets in quarantine. (images via swat_hk)