Authorities in Hong Kong just confirmed the first case of a pet infected with the new coronavirus. It is a Pomeranian dog and it has a low-level of infection after its owner was also infected.
The dog was not showing any symptoms, yet medical experts tested it and confirmed the virus. But there is a difference between being infected and being infectious. While a low-level of the virus has been found on the dog, it doesn’t have any of the symptoms. So pets probably do not spread the virus, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Authorities highly suggest to not panic and not abandon your pet. Just don’t kiss it or let it lick your face, and keep it away as much as possible from other people and other animals. Wash your hands after touching it and maintain a clean and hygienic house. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, make sure to wear a protective N95 respirator mask in order to avoid spreading the disease to others. And if your pet has symptoms, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
The above-mentioned dog was first tested on February 26th and showed low levels of the virus. The tests were repeated on February 28th and March 2nd, and the results were “weak positive”. The dog is now in quarantine and will continue to be tested until the results turn negative and it can be returned to the owner.
What is a coronavirus?
The term “coronavirus” refers to a large family of viruses that cause illness in animals and humans. They can cause respiratory infections ranging from a common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the new COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). The new outbreak began in December 2019, in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common ones are:
- Dry cough
- Breathing difficulties
- Aches and pain
- Nasal congestion or a runny nose
- Sore throat
It may start as a common cold and get worse with time. About 80% of the infected people recover without any special treatment. But around 16% develop health complications and about 2% die. The most susceptible are older people who also have underlying medical issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions.
Antibiotics are not efficient, nor the medications commonly used for colds and flu. A vaccine or treatment is yet to be created, and it will take at least a few more months until then. The recovery process depends on the immune system of each individual, and those who have died of this virus were already in poor health condition.
Is COVID-19 the same as SARS?
While the 2 viruses are related to each other genetically, they are different. SARS is more deadly, while the COVID-19 is more infectious. Luckily, there have been no new outbreaks of SARS since 2003.
In order to protect yourself, make sure to always wash or disinfect your hands, to avoid crowded places and to wear an N95 respirator mask when needed.