(ORDO NEWS) — The first two dogs diagnosed with coronavirus – Pomeranian and German Shepherd – were very likely to be infected by their owners. In both dogs, viral RNA and antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 were isolated; in addition, a live virus circulated in one of the dogs in the body. About this in an article published in Nature , virologists from Hong Kong University write .
Analysis of viral genetic sequences in dogs showed that they are identical to those found in humans. This genetic link convincingly confirms the fact of the transfer of the pathogen from the owners to the pets. The study showed no evidence that dogs could transmit the infection to other animals or humans. But so far, scientists have not enough data to clearly determine in which direction the virus can spread.
It is worth saying that the probability of transmission of the virus from person to dog is small. Only 2 out of 15 dogs that lived with sick owners and were monitored by scientists became infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Symptoms of coronavirus infection were also not severe. However, the likelihood of transmission of the virus from humans to animals and vice versa should be considered for the prevention and prognosis of outbreaks of infection.
This is not the first case of detection of coronavirus infection in animals that have been in any way in contact with humans. Previously, SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed in three domestic cats (one in Hong Kong and two in the USA). Four tigers and three lions at the New York Zoo also tested positive for coronavirus.
New data confirm the results of a study conducted in April this year, when Chinese researchers intentionally infected dogs with coronavirus. Scientists recommend that people diagnosed with Covid-19 wear a mask when caring for pets and, if possible, limit tactile contact with them.
Researchers plan to continue their research on the transmission of coronavirus. It has already been established that SARS-CoV-2 fell into the human population from bats, but it is possible that cats and dogs could be an intermediate link in the transmission route, because in China, the meat of these animals is actively eaten.
Scientists also want to understand what symptoms of Covid-19, characteristic of humans, can occur in dogs. For example, people infected with coronavirus often experience a loss of smell. This can affect specially trained dogs that sniff out explosives, drugs, and illegal substances.
Interestingly, a few months ago, Viktor Maleev , adviser to the director of research at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor, said that cats and dogs cannot be considered a potential source of SARS-CoV-2 infection for humans. According to experts, these animals can be carriers of coronaviruses, which are not dangerous to humans.
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