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A dog tested positive for coronavirus, but nobody knows what that means yet

Published Mar 5th, 2020 7:06PM EST
coronavirus in dogs
Image: Justus De Cuveland/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

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As the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to keep the world’s health experts on edge, with new cases popping up in many different countries on a daily basis, a new report out of China suggests that the virus may also affect man’s best friend. The South China Morning Post reports that animal welfare officials in Hong Kong made the declaration that a COVID-19 patient’s dog had tested positive for the virus.

The report leaves many questions to be answered, and the agency’s claims have already been met with criticism. The results were reported as a “weak positive” confirmation of COVID-19 infection, but were based strictly on swabs from the animal’s mouth and nose.

A worst-case scenario would be that human-to-animal transmission of the disease is possible. For that to be confirmed, blood tests need to be run. According to the report, the blood samples were taken from the animal but were still pending at the time that the agency made its declaration. The dog is a 17-year-old Pomeranian.

The most important thing to note here is the fact that the virus tests were positive on swabs that could have contained the virus after it was expelled from the pet’s owner. Dogs catch a lot of things on their tongues, and it’s possible that any virus present in the dog’s mouth or nose was there as a result of living in close proximity to a human who was infected.

A blood test will show whether the animal was actually infected with the virus or not. The so-called “low-level infection” might not actually mean that the pup was carrying the virus, which is obviously the best outcome.

Now, if the blood tests come back positive for the virus, and it turns out that human-to-pet transmission of the virus is possible, things will get a lot more interesting, and not in a good way. We’ll wait on the official results before diving into even more dire scenarios, but this whole saga is definitely worth keeping an eye on.