The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) has received its first reported case of a SARS-CoV-2 positive dog in Louisiana. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.
“Initially, it was believed pets could not get the disease, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now learning that animals can be infected,” said Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.
According to the United State Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), there is currently no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading the virus. Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.
Strain added, “It appears that people with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact. It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended.”
According to the CDC, in many cases, the pets do not get sick, but some have suffered mild signs of respiratory tract or gastrointestinal disease. A small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus in several countries, including the United States.
The CDC recommends that patients with COVID-19 who have pets follow these recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/animals/interim-guidance-managing-people-in-home-care-and-isolation-who-have-pets.html.
Strain also urged Louisiana domestic pet owners to not abandon or surrender their pets to animal control agencies if they are able to take care of them.
“If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, allow a family member or close friend to care for your pets. If no one is available, maintain a safe distance from your pet and frequently wash your hands before and after contact with your pet, their food and supplies,” said Strain. “Remember, in the event of any emergency, it is wise to have a pet plan as you would have a game plan for your family,” added Strain.
According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) rules, the LDAF cannot release any information that could identify the pet owner including where the dog is located.