Mar 5, 2020 - Health

Hong Kong dog diagnosed with "low-level" coronavirus infection

Three pet groomers wearing masks as a preventive measure against the virus while working on the dogs.

Pet groomers take preventive measure against the coronavirus while working on the dogs. Photo: Lam Yik/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Pet owners are urged to adopt "good hygiene practices" like avoiding kissing animals after a dog was found to have a "low-level of infection" of the novel coronavirus, Hong Kong authorities said in a statement Wednesday.

Why it matters: This would appear to be the first case of a likely human-to-animal transmission, per a spokesman for the city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. But he stressed there's "no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick."

The big picture: The dog returned a "weak positive" reading in its nasal and oral cavities for COVID-19 after repeated tests conducted over several days, the Hong Kong spokesman said. "The dog has not shown any signs of disease related to COVID-19," he said.

  • The animal has been placed into quarantine with another dog, which tested negative to the virus that's infected over 95,000 people worldwide, per the statement. The infected dog won't be released until it returns a negative reading and the other animal must clear one more test before it can go home.

What they're saying: A CDC statement notes it's "not received any reports" of animals becoming sick with the virus and there's currently "no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19."

  • The World Organization for Animal Health also points out there are no examples of animals transmitting the virus to humans. But it adds, "[B]ecause animals and people can sometimes share diseases ... it is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus."

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