No evidence at this time that pets can transmit COVID-19

No evidence at this time that pets can transmit COVID-19

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is reassuring the public that there is no evidence to date that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted from pets to humans or from pets to other pets.

The ministry said there is also no any evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans play any role in the spread of COVID-19.

“Human outbreaks have been driven by person to person contact,” the division said in a news release.

The ministry said that although experts currently believe that the virus originated from bats and may have passed through an intermediary animal, there is not enough scientific evidence to date to identify the source or to explain the original route of transmission from an animal source to humans.

“To date, two dogs are known to have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus following close contact with infected humans. Most recently, based on information provided by the National Veterinary Services of Belgium to the OIE on March 28, 2020, a Belgian cat belonging to a COVID-19 infected individual tested positive for the virus after the cat exhibited clinical signs of digestive and respiratory disease,” the ministry said.

The ministry said the fact that COVID-19 virus infection is now widely distributed in the human population there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans.

“It has been shown that the immediate environment surrounding COVID-19 patients can be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2. As such, pets living with infected people naturally become exposed to the virus. It is therefore recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information become known about this virus,” it continued.

But based on advice from the World Health Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health, as a general precaution, the ministry said hygiene measures should be applied at all times when handling animals and animal products.

These include regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products, as well as avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth.

The ministry further advised the public that meat, milk, eggs and other products from healthy livestock that are derived from Government/Public Health-approved establishments and prepared and served in accordance with good hygiene and food safety principles remain safe to eat.

Additionally, local livestock owners and handlers are advised that it is safe to handle and care for all healthy livestock, including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, broiler and layer birds as long as good hygiene measures are applied at all times.

The ministry, however, noted that where animals appear sick, immediate contact must be made with a registered veterinarian, or with the Veterinary Services Division.


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