There has been a lot of conflicting information about whether or not your pets can get COVID-19, and/or can they pass it on to humans.
Now, the first dog to have tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong has died, and this has forced the World Health Organization (WHO) to change its position on the possible infection of dogs and cats.
The dog, a 17-year-old Pomeranian, has died in Hong Kong, according to a local media report.
According to the South China Morning Post, the dog passed away earlier this week after it was returned home, following a government quarantine and a negative test. The dog, which belonged to a 60-year-old woman who recovered from COVID-19, had previously tested “weak positive” for the virus.
A spokesman for the city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) told the South China Morning Post it learned of the dog’s passing on March 16. “The owner said she was not willing to [allow] an autopsy to examine the cause of death,” the spokesman added.
The dog, whose infection was discovered in February, is believed to be the first known case of human-to-animal transmission of the virus.
Prior to the dog’s death, WHO had on its FAQs on its website, “currently, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats have infected humans with Covid-19.” Since the dog’s death, that section has been removed.
However, while it appears that the dog contracted the virus from its owner, the WHO still says that there is little or no evidence that the reverse is true, though further studies may bring new findings.
The organization advises pet owners who are infected or susceptible of being infected with the coronavirus to avoid close contact with their pets and have another member of the household care for the animals. If they must look after their pet, they should maintain good hygiene practices and wear a face mask if possible.
The CDC and FEMA also advise to make sure you do not forgot about your furry friends in any of your shelter-in-place or disaster preparation plans.
As of Wednesday morning, there have been more than 201,000 reported cases of COVID-19, including at least 6,500 in the U.S.