Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Vets say no clear evidence pets will catch virus

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2020 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association (JVMA) has added its voice to the list of organisations calling on all Jamaicans to do their part in combating the spread of SARS-CoV-2, or the novel coronavirus, by remaining informed and observing safety directives.

With the public growing increasingly concerned about the role animals play in the transmission of COVID-19, the JVMA has sought to address the issue, especially since the new virus is believed to have originated in bats and may have been transmitted to humans via contact with other wildlife species such as the pangolin.

The association with snakes has been discounted as coronaviruses are only known to infect mammals and birds.

In a press statement, the JVMA advised that there are many types of coronaviruses. Several cause diseases of concern in domestic animals but these in particular do not infect humans. There are four human coronaviruses that cause the common cold.

The JVMA is now aware that the first dog (17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong) which tested weak positive for COVID-19 has passed away shortly after her release from quarantine and testing negative for the virus. The cause of death at this time is unknown. However, she was very old and no necropsy was allowed by the owner.

A second case has been diagnosed in Hong Kong with a two-year-old German shepherd whose owner also tested positive and both are currently being quarantined.

“We encourage owners to remain calm and consider staying away from their pets if they feel unwell. Animal owners are encouraged to follow good hygiene practices such as hand washing before and after interacting with animals or things they come in contact with. This is a novel and unprecedented situation which continues to evolve daily and the JVMA will be monitoring the situation locally and internationally to best advise Jamaican citizens,” said Dr Simone Johnally, public relations chairperson for the JVMA.

The JVMA said that it was advisable to practise good hygiene when handling animals or preparing food.