TAIPEI (CNA) — There is no evidence that pets or other domestic animals have been infected with COVID-19 coronavirus or could spread it to humans, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said in a statement issued Sunday.
The COA issued the statement after the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department in Hong Kong issued a notice that a dog living in the home of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 had tested positive a week earlier for the virus.
Both the World Organization for Animal Health and the World Health Organization have said there is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs could become infected or transmit the virus, according to the COA.
The pet dog, which was under quarantine, had nasal and oral samples that were confirmed as “weak-positive” for the virus, although its anal samples tested negative for the virus and the dog has not shown any symptoms, according to the COA.
The “weak-positive” tests could be because of close contact between the COVID-19 patient and the dog and a result of environmental contamination of the dog’s mouth and nose, the COA indicated.
The COA’s Animal Health Research Institute has developed a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for detection of the virus and will employ positive control samples for the experiment, according to the statement.
The COA will also hold an experts meeting to determine sample taking and testing methods and will soon conduct tests on samples from animals. Initially, it plans to test 10 animal samples daily and expand its testing capacity further depending on the development of the epidemic.
However, the COA stressed there is no evidence that pets can become infected or transmit the virus.
It advised pet owners to follow proper sanitation and hygiene habits, such as washing hands thoroughly after touching their pets, and to help their pets stay healthy.