A Pomeranian in Hong Kong has been quarantined after being discovered to be carrying the deadly Novel Coronavirus. There are fears that the dog may be capable of passing the disease on.
Confirmation on this case is not official at the moment but if officials confirm this case it would mark the very first incident of the coronavirus infecting a dog or any other pet.
With those infected pushing over 82,000 throughout the globe, this newest development is concerning as it may very well mean the virus has mutated and current vaccines that are being developed may have to start over from scratch.
The dog was taken from their guardian’s home this past Wednesday after the guardian herself was diagnosed with COVID-19 AKA coronavirus and placed into isolation at a local hospital.
An AFCD (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) spokesperson in Hong Kong confirmed that the Pomeranian’s “nasal and oral cavity samples were tested weak positive to COVID-19 virus,” although why they decided to test the animal has been left uncertain.
The spokesperson added:
“At present, the AFCD [Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department] does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people.”
While the dog’s guardian Hau Yee developed symptoms a week ago with a diagnosis following five days later confirming she is infected with the coronavirus her Pomeranian is not as of yet exhibiting any symptoms.
Yee’s dog is currently quarantined at an animal shelter where no other animals are being held and will remain at the shelter for 14 days according to the Hong Kong spokesperson.
They will repeatedly test the dog to see if they really are infected or if the positive tests were a result of contamination of the nose and mouth was from their guardian being sick.
It was reported by the local media that Miss Yee went out to drink tea and went to a wedding while she was infected. Officials are currently tracking down those she had contact with.
Reports of this Pomeranian’s “weak positive” test results has brought more uncertainty up over the coronavirus that continues to rapidly spread all over the world after infections began to pop up at the end of last year.
Connections between COVID-19 of the past in animals continue to haunt officials as they search for links between animals becoming infected and this new coronavirus outbreak.
A Professor of the University of Nottingham’s Molecular Virology unit Jonathan Ball said:
“There is no evidence that the human novel coronavirus can infect dogs and it would be incredible for a virus to make so many species jumps in such a short space of time.”
“We have to differentiate between real infection and just detecting the presence of a virus these are very different and the fact that the test result was weakly positive would suggest that this is environmental contamination or simply the presence of coronavirus shed from the human contact that has ended up in the dog’s samples.”
Daniella Dos Santos the President of the British Veterinary Association added to that saying:
“The current advice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) remains that the predominant route of transmission is human to human. Further advice from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association is that there is currently no evidence that pets can be infected with Covid-19 and this remains the case at the time of commenting.”
“Our advice to vets and pet owners is to follow Public Health England and NHS advice and guidance.”
This infection that is currently on the edge of becoming a pandemic was initially believed to have started at a live animal market in Wuhan China possible from bats, snakes or frogs but reports have become muddied as the investigation continues.
Some reports have even reported that the virus has escaped from a Wuhan laboratory that had over 600 bats used for testing that attacked and urinated on the scientists.
The reality is that officials still are not sure where this virus started and any reports have been speculation sometimes even steeped in twinges of racism and cultural xenophobia.
There have been reports that dogs, cats, and other pets are being rounded up by Chinese officials throughout the country and killed to prevent the spread of the virus.
Community officials in the southwestern Sichuan Province in China reportedly knocked on doors and ordered residents to give up their pets before slaughtering them.
We also reported on in the initial panic after a health minister made an offhanded remark Chinese citizens were throwing their dogs and cats out of the windows of their apartment blocks out of fear they would contract the virus from them.
The sad and chilling pictures that have emerged out of China showing the treatment of animals caught in the crosshairs of this outbreak are heartbreaking especially if you consider that harming animals is what caused this viral pandemic to begin with.
To counter the spread of the virus China has banned all wildlife meat market sales and consumption in the country as well as closing wildlife farms and banning the consumption of dog meat in Yulin a city notorious for their dog meat festival every year.