Experts: Take extra care to avoid Covid-19 transmission to pets


PETALING JAYA: Veterinary professionals have advised pet owners to practise good personal hygiene and safety measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19 to their animals.

Malaysia Small Animal Veterinary Association (Msava) president Dr Gopinathan Gangadharan said the World Organisation for Animal Health and other international health groups had found no evidence linking Covid-19 transmission from animals or pets to humans.

“There are no such cases reported in Malaysia. Currently, there is no Covid-19 testing for pets in the country,” he said.

Warning that humans were the ones transmitting Covid-19 to animals, Dr Gopinanthan said even in cases of infections, these were mild and the animals would recover.

“Pets such as dogs have not shown any symptoms of Covid-19. For cats, although they may show some signs of the disease, they can overcome the virus quickly through their immune system,” he said.

Pet owners suspected to have or found positive for Covid-19, he warned, should quarantine themselves from their animals.

“We have to treat animals the way we treat other human beings in the house. Single owners should ask relatives or friends to take care of their pets or send their animals to the nearest veterinary clinic.

“If the pets show mild Covid-19 symptoms, the vets will provide

the necessary treatment and the pet owners will not have to worry about getting the disease as there is no animal to human transmission,” he said, adding that owners could visit its website for a list of veterinary clinics open during the movement control order (MCO) period.

Former Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam warned people with Covid-19 not to handle animals or at least wear gloves or face masks when caring for them.

The tricky part, he said, was when a person was asymptomatic.

“If you know you are asymptomatic or sick, you should, if possible, cover your face with a mask when attending to animals.

“It is most important to limit your contact with animals, as you would with other people in the house,” he said, revealing a study that suggested that cats could transmit the disease to other felines.

“Pets can also carry other bacterial or parasitic diseases, so owners should always wash their hands with soap and water after handling their pet and waste,” he said.

Prof Datuk Dr Vellayan Subramaniam, executive member of Msava Associate, suggested that all zookeepers and staff be screened for Covid-19.

He also advised zookeepers to wear gloves and masks, particularly when handling animals such as orang utan and chimpanzees, and called for the animals to undergo thorough medical check-ups.

On Tuesday, Bernama quoted the Veterinary Services Department as saying pets did not spread Covid-19 and owners did not have to take their animals for Covid-19 screening.“Based on current scientific findings, although pets can be infected with Covid-19, it is not dangerous as the virus will only cause mild infection in animals,” it said.

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