Image above from Unilad
A report released this week from the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) states a pet pomeranian of a patient infected with COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has tested weakly positive for the virus as well.
The dog had no symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, respiratory distress), however oral and nasal cavity samples tested “weakly positive” for the virus.
Although we have not heard of a previous case of COVID transferring from a human to their pet, the dog has been quarantined at a facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
The AFCD is also considering this may be an environmental contamination causing the weakly positive test. Repeated testing on the dog will be conducted and once proven negative after the 14 day quarantine period, may be released back to his owner.
Pet owners are urged not to kiss their pets and wash their hands thoroughly after handling them, whether they have coronavirus or not. If a pet does appear to show symptoms of being ill, they should be put under quarantine by appropriate authorities.
Currently over 83,000 people in multiple countries have been affected by the virus. The death toll is over 2,850, the majority of whom have been from China. In the US, 60 cases have been confirmed.
This is a developing story.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses come in multiple types and can cause an array of illnesses from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The latter two causing severe illness, as SARS killed over 700 people and sickened over 8000 in the 2002-2003 outbreak.
Hence a coronavirus can be unpredictable, mutate to more virulent forms, or cause mild upper respiratory illness.
How is Coronavirus spread?
The virus can be spread from human contact with animals, and human to human contact. Scientists believe COVID-19 may be transmitted by saliva and respiratory secretions but are still investigating its ability to be spread by this “droplet transmission.”
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus strain COVID-19?
As with most viruses, this strain can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Cough – dry early on and then in later stages may be productive
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of appetite
How long after exposure can one become sick?
The incubation period can range anywhere from 2-14 days.
How does one die from Coronavirus?
If the illness persists or becomes severe, one could potentially suffer from pneumonia, respiratory difficulty and even secondary infections.
How does one tell if they have a mild Coronavirus strain or a deadly one?
The early onset of disease could mimic a cold or flu, hence it may be difficult to tell. However, severe or persistent symptoms could suggest a more aggressive strain of the virus and will warrant immediate evaluation. Medical providers have been urged to ask patients about their travel habits and exposure to others who may have been exposed and to notify local health departments to facilitate testing of those who demonstrate symptoms of the COVID-19 strain.
Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?
No, however, we have heard a vaccine for COVID-19 is being researched and may be in its early development.
What is the treatment for this strain of Coronavirus?
At this time there is no specific treatment for this strain. However, supportive measures can be instilled such as rest, fluids and maintaining oxygenation in severe cases.
How can we prevent a COVID-19 infection?
Experts urge avoiding sick contacts and washing hands thoroughly. Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing to avoid spreading illness if you are sick. And if you do have a family member with COVID-19, the CDC suggests the following:
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and is Board Certified Family Physician