CHARELSTON, S.C. (WCBD)- A dog in Charleston County tested positive for SARS-CoV-2; the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. Veterinary experts want to put pet owners at ease by explaining the facts.
The Charleston County canine that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 is the first in South Carolina. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are only 13 animals in America with confirmed cases of the virus.
“The risk to humans from pets is quite low. There’s no established link and also no evidence that pets are severely affected. Certainly it’s concerning when one tests positive,” says Dr. Lucy Fuller, Senior Director of Veterinary Care at Charleston Animal Society.
That said, every animal on the USDA’s list has been exposed to a probable or confirmed human with COVID-19. This included the owner of the dog in Charleston County who recently tested positive for Coronavirus.
According to Dr. Boyd Parr, State Veterinarian for South Carolina, the dog had to be euthanized because of it’s chronic condition. They are unsure if the dog was ill because of SARS-CoV-2.
“I only refer to the dog as being positive for SARS-COV-2 because we have not determined the dog was sick with that virus,” says Dr. Parr.
As of now, experts say it’s too early to determine how easily the virus can spread from human to animal. Dr. Parr says the best way to keep pets safe if you get sick with COVID-19 is to socially distance as you would a human.
“It remains a good idea to restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you do with other people, if you are infected with COVID-19 in order to protect them from exposure to the virus as recommended by the CDC,” he says.
At the moment, the CDC does not recommend routine testing for animals. Dr. Fuller recommends speaking with your veterinarian if you think your pet is experiencing potential symptoms (cough, sneezing, runny nose).
“If you were sick and your pet began showing signs that were consistent with Coronavirus, then you would speak to your veterinarian about it. Then your vet would decide in consultation with the State Veterinarian whether or not testing is appropriate.”
You can see the full list of CDC’S Pets and COVID-19 guidelines here.