YORK -- Pet parents needn’t worry – COVID-19 cannot be transmitted via their fur babies, contrary to online rumors.

“Right now there is no evidence that it affects traditional pets, like dogs, cats and hamsters,” said Dr. Jeremy Haack of York Animal Clinic.

To date, there have been no cases of companion animal-to-human spread, says the World Organization of Animal Health (WOAH). “The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission,” their website states. “There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.”

Misconceptions and misinterpretations still exist. Haack said one source of the COVID-19 misinformation originates from a dog that tested positive in Washington State. “They’re thinking the owner had so much virus in them it resulted in a false positive. It was placed in 14-day quarantine without any signs,” Haack said.

“There is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick,” WOAH states.

Other, more benign, coronaviruses are relatively common in both people and animals.

“Common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold,” states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Most people get infected with one or more of these viruses at some point in their lives. This information applies to common human coronaviruses and should not be confused with coronavirus disease 2019.”

Dr. Haack said that in pets there are distinctive differences between generic coronaviruses and COVID-19.

“Coronaviruses can hop species, but this strain doesn’t impact our pets,” he said.

Even so, humans should continue to prevent the spread from humans-to-humans.

“Follow CDC guidelines,” Dr. Haack said.

Because the current COVID-19 pandemic isn’t affecting domestic pets, pet owners and other concerned parties need not worry about pet-to-person transmission. There is no need for drastic measures against animals, WOAH says. “It is important that COVID-19 does not lead to inappropriate measures being taken against domestic or wild animals which might compromise their welfare and health or have a negative impact on biodiversity.”

Basically, don’t fear Fluffy.

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