Hong Kong authorities warned residents Wednesday not to kiss their pets, but at the same time not to panic and abandon them on the streets after a dog repeatedly tested “weak positive” for coronavirus in a likely case of human-to-animal transmission.
The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said experts unanimously agreed the test results suggested the dog exhibited “a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission,” the Daily Express reports.
The Pomeranian’s owner was infected with Wuhan coronavirus but the dog itself was not showing symptoms, authorities said. Breitbart News first reported the discovery last week.
The Department of Agriculture said: “Pet owners are reminded to adopt good hygiene practices (including hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them) and to maintain a clean and hygienic household environment.
“People who are sick should restrict contacting animals. If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible.”
As Breitbart News reported, last month a Chinese epidemiologist warned coronavirus is highly contagious between humans however caution should still ensure it has no chance to move across species.
Dr. Li Lanjuan of the Chinese National Health Commission made clear mammals are generally at theoretical risk of passing the virus.
“If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have the chance to get infected. By then, pets need to be isolated. In addition to people, we should be careful with other mammals especially pets,” she told China Central Television (CCTV).
Chinese news outlets and the World Health Organization previously reported pet-to-person transmission remains theoretical.
New measures put in place by Hong Kong’s government last Friday mean all pets infected with the coronavirus must be quarantined for 14 days. Two dogs are already in isolation.
Last week the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen warned local restaurants to take dogs and cats off their menus as the country clamps down on the wildlife trade scientists suspect led to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Each year in China, over 10 million dogs and four million cats are reportedly murdered for their meat. Most of these dogs are domestic pets stolen from families or strays taken from the streets and sent to notorious slaughter houses.
AFP contributed to this story