As we continue to hunker down and prepare to ride out the coronavirus, many families have a question: what about our four-legged family members?

The short answer, for now at least, is much the same as what we've been told to do for ourselves.

You may have read of a Pomeranian in Hong Kong who apparently tested positive about a week ago. (You should understand that what the doggie has is considered a "low level" infection.) Whether pets are susceptible to the full effects of the virus, and whether they can pass the virus to and from humans, are questions still under study. spoke with Shelly Rankin, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Here's the short version of what she said.

Q: Can we pass the new coronavirus to our pets?

A: The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from humans to humans. There is no research to support human to animal spread at this time. Samples from the Hong Kong dog had a small number of virus particles present. It was a single case, and we learned that we need to do a lot more research.

That said, cats and dogs are mammals too. So the virus could theoretically attach to these receptors. But will it enter their cells and replicate? Probably not.

Still, people infected with SARS-CoV-19 should limit contact with their pets. Wash your hands, and don’t let them lick you on the face.

Q: Would we quarantine our pets too?

A: Yes, just like humans, some might be quarantined at a hospital. Or a shelter. Or even a doggy day care. If they had the virus but weren’t sick, you could quarantine them at home. You’d want to limit your contact with them.

Q: What should we be doing right now to protect our pets?

A: It is important to include pets in your family's preparedness planning. If you get sick and are quarantined, you should make sure you have extra pet food on hand.

More on the story here.


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