Can I be infected with Coronavirus (COVID19) from my pet?
My answer is “no”. There is zero evidence to state this has occurred.
But we now have almost 400000 cases in the world (as of March 24th) and no cases reported to have come from pet to human transmission.
You already know about human secretions being involved. So saliva and mucous droplets with viral particles in them appear primarily modes of infection.
- Direct transmission (cough/sneeze). Without physically trapping the cough/sneeze, particles have been shown to travel at least 6-8 metres.
- Smooth surfaces (eg door knobs, benchtops) allows for further transmission far more easily than porous surfaces (carpet, cloth, hair, fur)
Bear in mind that contact with virus is different to infection with virus.
Infection requires presence of virus, virus effectively binding and fusing to cell membranes, and avoiding the immune response as it starts replicating itself.
Do Pets Get Coronavirus?
The term Coronavirus applies to the family of virus by this name.
Saying “Coronavirus” is really like calling a car a “Holden”.
There are many and different Coronavirus types, each adapted to one species alone..
It has been known for many years that dogs, cats, ferrets, pigs and poultry can get their own unique and specific Coronavirus infection.
None of these have ever been implicated in human infections.
The recent COVID19 infection is thought to have come across from bats. Previous Coronavirus infections (SARS and MERS) were known to come across from Civets and Camels.
Infections jumping species is nothing new, but also not common.
Hendra Virus (horses) and Lyssavirus (Fruit Bats) are examples of previous smaller outbreaks of viruses that humans have contracted from animals.
Can I test for COVID-19 in my Pet?
At this point, there is not a commercially available test in Australia that I am aware of.
However, as part of preliminary work in developing current COVID19 PCR test, IDEXX laboratories was involved in testing thousands of dogs and cats. No evidence of COVID19 virus presence was found.
You may have read of a dog in Hong Kong “infected” with Coronavirus. This dog ultimately died.
What is less well publicised is that its death was not due to Coronavirus.
Equally, whilst Coronavirus was detected as present, this was not infection as such (no clinical signs, no abnormalities reported).
What will work to stop Coronavirus on non-biological surfaces?
Current evidence supports alcohol and bleach based disinfectants
Sodium peroxide is also effective.
Clearly these are not for use on biological surfaces.
All organic material makes disinfection less effective. This means dirt, oils, debris etc.
So cleaning a surface thoroughly first (with detergent type material as this removes oily and fatty deposits) is required to get the disinfectant to be effective.
Disinfectant without cleaning first defeats your purpose of disinfection.
You can consider alcohol and bleach as preferred anti-viral disinfectants (we do!).
Other disinfectants are used as surface treatments also (eg F10). However these are less useful inactivating Coronavirus.
Stay safe. Stay well. And continue to enjoy your pets company (they enjoy yours)