Pets and the coronavirus

Researchers looking for a clearer picture of how COVID-19 can affect pets want to include animals from the Yakima area in a study.

The University of Washington’s Vicki Ramirez said her study aims to determine how likely it is for pets to catch COVID-19 from their owners, noting there’s no evidence animals can transmit the virus to humans.

Even if pets catch the virus, Ramirez said early studies done elsewhere, such as Wuhan, China, show little reason for owners to worry.

“Some are showing respiratory symptoms, just like coughing, sneezing, lethargy,” Ramirez said. “Just being really tired all day.”

Virtually all pets recovered after spending some time quarantined at home. Ramirez said the rare cases of death may not have been related to COVID-19, including an old dog with heart disease.

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Source: Yakima Health District, Yakima Herald-Republic reporting

She’s hoping to test around 150 animals at a minimum of 100 households. So far they’ve reached eight to 10 households with no confirmed cases.

Participants will be asked to fill out a survey to help determine their level of contact with their pets. Nasal swabs and blood samples will be taken, then sent to a lab at Washington State University’s animal disease diagnostic lab, where results are generally determined in three to five days.

Ramirez emphasized that human health resources won’t be used for this study.

She recommended any pets with COVID-19 be quarantined in their own room at home, even from other pets, since it’s possible the virus could be transmitted to members of the same species. Ramirez said during the pandemic that owners, especially those who have tested positive, should probably only touch their own animals to protect other pets.

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Reach Luke Thompson at luthompson@yakimaherald.com and on Twitter: @luketscribe