SEOUL, March 5 (Korea Bizwire) — Concerns are growing that dogs and cats may also be infected with the novel coronavirus as dogs are known to have tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong.
However, experts say COVID-19 and other coronaviruses, which dogs and cats can easily be infected with, are different types of viruses with same name.
Veterinary experts say that coronaviruses that are contagious among dogs and cats only spread between the same species. In other words, dogs infect only dogs and cats only cats.
In fact, there were no cases of dogs or cats infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Viruses such as COVID-19, which are named “corona” because they resemble a crown, mutate well. COVID-19 itself is also known to have mutated from wild animals and people are said to have been infected.
However, there are no reports that dogs or cats have been infected with COVID-19. The Hong Kong case also raised the possibility that the virus, not an infection in the body, could have been contaminated with hair and tested mildly positive.
So, what exactly are the coronaviruses that infect dogs and cats, that are drawing attention in line with the incident?
The coronavirus that dogs catch easily is called “coronaviral enteritis,” and when infected, the infection usually results in gastroenteritis.
It is highly contagious, and when a dog is infected, it is transmitted to neighboring dogs through bodily fluids and feces.
When infected, dogs drool a lot and show symptoms such as poor appetite, vomiting and lethargy. If the infection is severe, it can lead to death.
In particular, puppies are especially susceptible to such infections. Thus, it is important for puppies to receive a flu shot. Even if infected, animals typically recover within 8 to 10 days if properly treated in the early stages.
The coronavirus that cats catch easily is called “feline infectious peritonitis.” If cats have this disease, their stomach will be filled with water and they will show symptoms such as poor appetite and weight loss.
The coronavirus which occurs in cats tends to mutate significantly. Unlike dogs, vaccine prevention and treatment are not easy, so most cats die if they are infected.
This is why it is best to keep cats out of contact with the coronavirus and try not to put them under stress.
“COVID-19 and other coronaviruses, including common diseases for dogs and cats, are of different types, so it is very unlikely that pets will act as host of COVID-19 infections,” said Lim Hee-soo, head of the Helix Animal Medical Center.
“But since the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted on a dog’s fur, it is better to practice washing your hands before contacting your pet and also washing your dog well.”
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)