Lions And Zoos

askST: Can we pass Covid-19 to our pets ?, Health news and headlines

SINGAPORE – Many countries have reported that animals, including pets, have been infected with Covid-19.

Last week, an Asian lion in a zoo in India died of it. His death prompted the testing of dozens of elephants in a forest reserve across the country. Tigers in India have also been tested.

Russia reportedly started vaccinating pets in veterinary clinics with its Carnivak-Cov vaccine at the end of May.

The Straits Times (ST) answers some common questions about animals and Covid-19.

Q: Other than lions, what other animals have contracted Covid-19?

A: A small number of animals, including companion dogs, raccoon dogs and zoo animals such as tigers and lions have tested positive for Covid-19 after coming into contact with infected people.

Two cases of Covid-19 transmission from man to cat in the UK were reported in the journal Veterinary Research in late April, providing further evidence of such spread.

“One had mild illness and the other had severe illness. The viral strains in both cats were very similar to human strains,” said Professor Paul Tambyah of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

Covid-19 infections in farmed mink have also been reported in at least 10 countries. Millions of animals, which are valued for their fur, have been slaughtered to prevent future abuses on humans.

Q: What are the chances of my cat or dog spreading the disease?

A: There are very few reports of an animal transmitting Covid-19 to humans, although there have been reports of mink farmers in northern Europe infected with strains that have passed from human to mink and back to human, Professor Tambyah said.

The vast majority of the millions of Sars-CoV-2 infections have been from human-to-human transmission and it appears that human-to-human transmission is extremely rare, he added.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has said animals do not play a significant role in the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues through human-to-human transmission.

Q: What if my cat or dog gets Covid-19? Will he die?

A: Confirmed cases in cats and dogs are extremely rare and usually result in mild symptoms, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) in the United States has said. No dog or cat has died from the infection to date, he said.

People suspected or confirmed of Covid-19 infection should avoid contact with animals, including pets, livestock and wildlife, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said.

If you suspect your pet has Covid-19, you can contact the National Parks Board Animal and Veterinary Services. It performs biomonitoring and is able to do the right kind of polymerase chain reaction test for Sars-CoV-2 in animals, Professor Tambyah said.

Q: Will I need to vaccinate my pets soon?

A: No. Professor Tambyah said there are no Covid-19 vaccines allowed for animals here.

The WSAVA said there has been no case in which a dog or cat has been proven to transmit the virus to humans. Owners don’t need to consider vaccinating their pets against Sars-CoV-2 just yet, he said.

“Since Sars-CoV-2 infection in dogs and cats most often originates from an infected human, the best way to protect a pet is to vaccinate owners so that they are less likely to infect their pets. pet, ”he said at the end of April. declaration.

In the United States last year, veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis initiated vaccine development activities, based on initial concerns about Sars-CoV-2 in domestic animals.

“If regulatory authorities determine that there is a need, we are ready to act quickly to further develop our Covid-19 vaccine for animals,” Christina Lood, its senior director of innovation and development, told ST. communications on sustainable development.

Q: Does Covid-19 come from an animal?

A: The exact origins of Sars-CoV-2 remain to be determined. It could be many years before we know for sure.

So far, the common belief is that Sars-CoV-2 probably originated from bats, a known reservoir of coronavirus, and jumped to humans via an unknown animal intermediate host, such as a pangolin.

Yet a June 7 report by researchers at China West Normal University and Oxford University found that more than 47,000 live animals were sold in Wuhan wet markets from May 2017 to November 2019, but no pangolins or bats were traded.

There are other hypotheses, including the politically charged theory that Sars-CoV-2 was leaked in a lab in China.

The OIE estimates that at least 75% of emerging infectious diseases affecting humans, including Ebola, HIV and influenza, are of animal origin.

Q: Are the animals at the Singapore Zoo safe from Covid-19?

A: The four wildlife parks here already have strict protocols, such as quarantining new animals, to prevent cross-transmission of diseases from humans to animals in their care and vice versa, a spokesperson for Wildlife Reserves said. Singapore (WRS).

The Covid-19 outbreak has prompted more measures, including the need for staff to wash their hands with soap and water before interacting with an animal, as well as to put on masks and gloves when he works with an animal.

They also minimize or avoid direct contact unless necessary, especially with high-risk species such as primates and carnivores.

“In addition to preventive measures, our great apes such as orangutans and chimpanzees also undergo temperature checks twice a day,” the WRS spokesperson said.

He said the risk of humans contracting Covid-19 from animals is very low.

“In addition, our vets believe that due to the low number of community cases in Singapore, coupled with the extra precautions we have taken to care for our animals, the risk of our animals contracting Covid-19 is very low,” a he declared.

None of the zoo animals here have been infected with Covid-19.

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