Pets and Coronavirus

in Animals & Pets

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

As we live through this awful pandemic that has caused some much heartache and disruption across our lives there has been so much fake news and scaremongering across many media platforms. 

I will try to add reason to some of the stories, in many cases fables that contaminate social media platforms.

First thing that has to be acknowledged is that most of the species we come into contact with us are very different genetically to us.  Evolutionarily we have common ancestors with dogs and cats about 100 million years ago, in the case of primates, our common ancestor  was roughly 60 million years ago. The Great Apes have a common ancestor to us that is quite recent and that is approximately between 5 and 8 million years ago.

The significance of this is that the majority of diseases tend to be very species specific, therefore there is low risk of contagion between species in the majority of diseases . There are always going to exceptions to the rules, such as rabies, but that is the rule of thumb. The closer a species is to us evolutionarily the higher the probability of zoonosos and reverse zoonosis.  For example if your dog has kennel cough you are not going to catch it. In many cases you can isolate pathogenic bacteria from different species but in most cases even the same type of bacteria has become so specialised that it cannot cross species. 

So we come to Covid 19, in principle the animals most at risk from this disease are any of the other Great Apes, e.g  chimps, gorillas, bonobos  and the orang-utans. As they are relatively close to us evolutionarily there will be susceptible to this disease and it is critical that we do not have contact with these majestic animals, not to protect us but to protect them. 

The animals we come into regular contact on a daily basis are not significant with regards to infection to humans. Animals, felines, have tested positive for Covid, but with minor if any clinical disease and with the virus load so small  there is a miniscule risk of zoonosis.  Stories going round that pets will have to vaccinated against Covid 19 are a nonsense. 

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