Humans may not be the only ones whose health may be impacted by COVID-19, the so-called coronavirus. A dog in Hong Kong tested positive for the disease, forcing the city’s authorities to quarantine the pet of a woman who was hospitalized with symptoms.
According to officials, the dog has been put in a two-week quarantine after it was found to have “low levels” of the virus in its oral and nasal cavities. According to Business Insider, the dog isn’t showing any symptoms and it doesn’t seem that dogs can become sick with the virus or pass it along to people.
At this point, health workers say they aren’t sure if the dog is actually carrying the virus or if the tests were influenced by “environmental contamination of the dog’s mouth and nose.”
However, officials are taking the cautious route as fears over the virus’ spread increases and will keep the canine in quarantine until it tests negative for the disease.
The head of Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch said that they would take things a step further and look at everyone who has contracted the virus to determine if further pets need to be tested for the disease.
The World Health Organization has cautioned that it doesn’t appear companion animals are susceptible to infection from the disease.
“At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus,” it noted.
The Hong Kong department for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation reiterated that claim.
“At present, the AFCD does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people,” a spokesman said.
Right now, the dog is the only one being held at the quarantine facility, but officials say that people should alert their veterinarian if any health changes are spotted in their pets.
“If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from veterinarians should be sought as soon as possible,” a statement said.
In Hong King, any mammal pets that are owned by people who contract the virus are advised to bring them into officials for testing and possible quarantine.
Thousands of pets have been left without their owners in China after the country enacted strict quarantines that have prevented people from returning to their homes.
In other countries, stray animals and rats have been rounded up and killed, though there’s no evidence that the disease is spread through mammals.