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Holly Springs Chatter

Wake County issues guidelines for protecting pets and others from COVID-19

Avoid close contact with animals if you have flu-like symptoms

The Wake County Animal Center is monitoring how COVID-19 may affect pets, following the first reports of pets in the U.S. testing positive for the new coronavirus.

“This is a novel virus. Just as doctors are racing to study how it affects humans, veterinarians are evaluating its impacts on pets,” Dr. Jennifer Federico, director of the Wake County Animal Center. “We will need more information to understand if, and how, different pets and animals are affected.”

Last Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control announced the first confirmed cases of two pet cats testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. The cats live in separate areas of New York state.

One of the cats’ owners tested positive for COVID-19, and the other is suspected to have come into contact with a mildly ill or asymptomatic person. Each cat had a mild respiratory illness and was expected to make a full recovery.

Until we know more, the CDC recommends pet owners take the following precautions:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you have symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19, restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
  • Follow general guidelines for staying healthy around animals.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. In rare cases, a strain that infects animals can spread to people. The CDC does not know its exact source, but the coronavirus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19 is suspected to have originated in animals and spread to people.

At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the new coronavirus, according to the CDC. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.

Should I Get My Pet Tested?
Routine testing of domestic animals for COVID-19 is not recommended by the CDC, United States Department of Agriculture or the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In North Carolina, the decision on whether testing should begin for pets lies with the leading veterinarians at N.C. State University and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Each agency will need to agree that animal testing is needed to protect the health of vulnerable human or animal populations.

Learning the Latest about Pets
Whenever you look for any new information about COVID-19, including updates about how to protect your pets, it is vital to follow official and reliable sources.

For news COVID-19 news related to animals, Wake County Animal Services recommends following the Worms & Germs Blog, an educational website coordinated by vets from the Ontario Veterinary College‘s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses.

They’re posting the latest credible news, and have compiled a page with some of their key COVID-19 resources.

Staying Updated in Wake County
Wake County has made it easy for you to stay updated on the latest information about COVID-19.

You can visit our COVID-19 webpage, which has a set of frequently asked questions to educate residents in English and in Spanish, a list of COVID-19-related closures and service changes, as well as an email address and phone number that people can use to ask personal health-related questions about COVID-19.