Coronavirus: we should not fear touching our pets

Fear over coronavirus still leads cat and dog owners to abandon their animals.

NEWS AND VIEWS: Governments have sometimes used fear tactics to drive their citizens to adhere to social distancing rules in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19. It can come down to psychological warfare almost and it works for the more risk-averse people.

Some people are genuinely terrified of Covid-19. I wonder whether they’ll ever get back to behaving normally. If you combine this fear of getting the disease with a lack of knowledge about the risk companion animals pose in terms of spreading the disease, you end up with cat owners abandoning their animals for no good reason.

It is unnecessarily damaging to animal welfare. A Gulf Today report from Cairo seems to illustrates the point. Veterinarian Carolos Majdi of the Animala Clinic in Cairo has started a campaign because he noticed “that there were many people leaving dogs and cats outside our clinic.”

Cairo cats and dogs tell the citizens that they are not a risk in spreading Covid-19 to humans
Cairo cats and dogs tell the citizens that they are not a risk in spreading Covid-19 to humans. The signs read: “I do not transmit the coronavirus, do not be afraid of me”. Photo: Gulf Today.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The clinic staff have let the animals do the talking. They photographed them with signs attached which explains to people that it is safe to keep cats and dogs during the pandemic.

The current scientific knowledge is that cats and dogs can get the disease but they are not a danger in spreading it to humans.

If cat and dog owners are worried they can take precautions at home such as washing their hands after petting their companion animal. But that said a recent study found that the spread of Covid-19 from surfaces is minimal.

Initially there was a study which disseminated scary information that the virus stays active on surfaces for a long time depending on the nature of the material. This lead to the mantra to wash hands regularly and we still use alcohol anti-viral hand wash outside shops and so on. But that early research has been criticised as being unobjective. Recent research concludes that transmission of the disease from touching surfaces is minimal. We should not fear touching our pets.

I don’t think we need to take any particular measures when interacting with cats and dogs. But as said if you are worried take some sensible precautions but never abandon your companion animal over a fear of contracting the disease from them.

The prime method of spreading the disease is through airborne particles when breathing, speaking and coughing etc.. Spread by touch is not really an issue.

The Nature.com website has an article: COVID-19 rarely spreads through surfaces. So why are we still deep cleaning? They refer to a study by Emanuel Goldman of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark. He checked out the potential for transmission by touching surfaces (fomites). He concluded that there is ‘little to support the idea that SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) passes from one person to another through contaminated surfaces’, in the words of the Nature.com reporter. Others have reached the same conclusions.

CDC in the US have confirmed this in saying that fomite transmission is “not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads.”

Please do your own research. But don’t worry about petting and kissing your cat or dog. There is little risk. And please don’t even consider abandoning him or her. They rely on you. They are your friend and companion. Abandon them and it may end their lives.

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