Do Pets Transmit the Coronavirus?

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Victoria Park Animal Hospital is still open for business, but, due to the novel coronavirus, people can't come inside, only pets. 

"They are not the best host for the virus," Dr. Alison Birken, owner of the animal hospital, says. "Humans are the best host for the virus."

Only one animal in the U.S. has tested positive for the virus, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo.

It's not common for domesticated pets or animals to carry COVID-19, according to Dr. Birken. 

Fears of pets transmitting the illness though have led to more pet surrenders, according to Good Karma Pet Rescue. 

"This is not the time to be abandoning your animal," said Facilities Manager Oda Sereix. 

The non-profit's work flow is all but shut down she says and resources are scarce. 

"We are getting quite the squeeze especially with donations down and intake is up. We don't necessarily have the money to handle the large medical expenses we are known for paying," said Sereix. 

Dr. Birken recommends against surrendering pets, but says owners should be careful if they are diagnosed with COVID-19. 

"At this time there is no data to suggest that if a dog coughs or sneezes and it gets in our face that we can transmit the disease. We are well aware that they can transmit it on their skin or their fur. It is unclear if they can transmit it to each other at this time," said Dr. Birken. 

Here are some of her recommendations if a pet owner is positive:

"You need to be extra cautious about hugging your pet, kissing your pet. If there is someone in your family who is not sick, perhaps they take over the care of the pet at that time. Try to keep them in your home. Try not to go on walks. Be conscientious when you are walking around that there could be particles on their fur and if someone goes and pet their dog that they can potentially pick it up on their hands."

Dr. Birken also provides information on Instagram under the Forever Freckled Blog. She shares the blog with her two sisters including her twin that is an Emergency Room Doctor at Joe DiMaggio's Children's Hospital in Hollywood. 

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