Can we give coronavirus to our pets?

OKLAHOMA CITY — When a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for covid-19, a zookeeper was pegged as the likely source of infection. So, if we can transmit the virus to tigers, do we also pose a risk to our pets?
According to Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation attending veterinarian Jennie Criley, D.V.M., it’s highly unlikely.
“We’ve seen no evidence in the U.S. of companion animals being important players in this outbreak,” Criley said. “The Bronx Zoo tiger was the first case of human-to-animal transmission reported in the U.S.”
Tigers share more than 95 percent of their genomes with domestic cats, and there have been very isolated reports of the detection of low levels of the virus in household pets in other countries their owners fell ill with covid-19. One cat is reported to have tested positive in Belgium, Criley said, along with one cat and two dogs in Hong Kong.
"Those animals are reported to have gotten only low levels of viral RNA,” said Criley, who also serves as director of comparative medicine at OMRF. “In the U.S., an estimated 150 million animals live in close proximity to us, and there have been no reported cases. The CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association agree at this time that chances of transmission appear really small.”
Preliminary data from one study demonstrated that the virus may replicate and be transmitted between experimentally infected ferrets and cats, but not in dogs. The ferrets developed respiratory disease, while the cats did not.
However, Criley said, that study involved extremely high levels of viral exposure much greater than pets would typically encounter in a home.
To be safe, Criley recommends using the same hygiene practices with your pets as you do with humans.
“Wash your hands before and after tending to them," she said. "Socially isolate your pets with the rest of your family, but don’t panic.”

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