Pets get Covid-19 virus from humans, not vice versa

KUALA LUMPUR, 7 April 2020:

Pets do not spread the Covid-19 virus, according to the Department of Veterinary Services. As such there is no cause for worry among the public, while pet owners need not take their pets for Covid-19 screening for the time being.

“Based on current scientific findings, although pets can be infected with the Covid-19 virus, it is not dangerous as the virus will only cause mild infection in animals,” in said in a statement today.

The department also explained that while the incidence of Covid-19 in humans is very high, it is isolated in the case of animals – because animals cannot contract the virus naturally.

To date, the cause of infection in animals is through human transmission.

“In this regard, the Veterinary Services Department advises pet owners who suspect they are infected with Covid-19 to stay away from their pets. Pet owners need to practise good personal hygiene and must not neglect the welfare of their pets.”

Yesterday, it was reported that a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, in New York tested Covid-19 positive, believed to have been infected by a asymptomatic zoo keeper,

Meanwhile, Zoo Negara authorities have taken measures to ensure more than 300 animal species do not contract Covid-19.

Zoo Negara veterinary director Dr Mat Naim Ramli said the movement of zoo keepers to the stables and cages have been reduced to four hours a day.

“Since there have been two to three human-to-animal transmission cases reported, precautionary measures have been taken especially for those who are constantly exposed to animals or working in a zoo.”

In general, he said there was a possibility that Covid-19 could spread from humans to animals if the patient had close contact with the animal and added that so far there has been no clear evidence that pet infections can spread to humans or other animals.

Dr Mat Naim said animals infected with Covid-19 may not show any symptoms of infection or may experience mild infection.

He urged the public who kept pets at home especially cats and dogs not to panic and rush their pets to a veterinary clinic for health checks.

“There is no Covid-19 test kit for animals at veterinary clinics so it’s no use going there even if your dog or cat is found to have cough and flu symptoms.

“It is important to take care of your personal hygiene and wash your hands before and after handling your pets. Those who are tested positive for COVID-19 need to stay away from others including their pets.”

Dr Mat Naim also welcomed the public’s contributions, especially animal food and zoo cleaning equipment.

“So far we have collected RM200,000 in donations from various parties and the public but we still need contributions in the form of vegetables and fruits for the more than 300 animals at Zoo Negara.

“Those keen on donating animal feed and zoo cleaning equipment such as garbage bags, brooms, rakes and so on can call 03-41083422 for more information.”

– Bernama