The outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), first detected in Wuhan City, in China, has raised concerns about the potential for a global pandemic.
While the number of cases remains low in North America, with most of the cases occurring in China and South Korea, the spread in Italy and Iran is prompting fears of potential spread in other countries.
While much is unclear about the source, transmission, behavior, and incubation times for SARS-CoV-2, ways to help protect yourself―and your pets―is clear.
By following typical “flu-season” precautions and using common sense, you can reduce the risk of contracting (or spreading) the virus:
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
- stay at home when you are sick
- frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (especially during cold and flu season)
- use hand sanitizer (containing greater than 60% alcohol) if hand washing isn’t possible
- cover your mouth/nose when you cough or sneeze
- clean frequently touched surfaces in your home and workplace
Pet owners too, have questions about the risk of their pets contracting or spreading SARS-Co-V-2. While coronaviruses can infect animals, currently there is no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can be infected with this new virus. Further, there is no evidence that pets could be a source of infection to people.
Because viruses evolve quickly, it is important to stay informed of any changes that may develop with the transmission or spread of the virus in domestic animal populations.
If you are under quarantine for SARS-CoV-2, there are important steps to take – and remember to treat the animals in your home just like people. If someone in your home is infected, the same quarantine that applies to people applies to pets.
- restrict activities outside your home (do not go to work or school, or visit public areas)
- only go out to receive medical care (and call ahead to receive instructions)
- do not use public transit, taxis, or ride-sharing forms of transportation
- use a separate washroom in your home (if possible)
- stay in a separate room, away from other people in your home
- restrict contact with all animals, including pets (treat them as you would other people in your home by avoiding contact with them)
- when possible, have other people in your home care for your pets
- avoid all contact with your pet if you are sick with SARS-CoV-2 (including petting, snuggling, sharing your bed, sharing food, and being kissed/licked)
- if you must care for your pet, wear gloves and a mask, and wash your hands before and after
- if you’re sick with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and have had contact with your pet, don’t allow your pet to wander outside
To stay informed on the latest information and advice, check the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2Fabout%2Findex.html) and the WHO website https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019