NEWS/OPINION ARTICLE: A SPAR (supermarket) poster in South Africa carried misleading information about the transmission of the coronavirus from companion animal to human. The amended poster is now crossed out with the sign ‘Incorrect Information’ emblazoned across it as it contained a misleading reference to avoiding contact with cats and dogs.
The scientists have said that there is no evidence that cats and dogs can get and transmit the virus. The truth is we don’t know but it is very unlikely. However, there has been one isolated case of a cat getting it from their owner in Belgium. I don’t know whether this is a case of misdiagnosis.
And a dog was not infected in the conventional sense i.e. the virus had not entered the dog’s blood stream and body tissue but was inside the nasal cavity. It was as if the virus had landed on a surface.
There are reports too of infected people being advised to socially distance from their cats or dogs. The advice was provided out of an abundance of caution and has quite possibly changed since I last saw it (various sources: click on this link to see a page on this). The point being reinforced is that even the experts are learning as they go. The projections for the likely number of people to die from Covid-19 are also speculative and the scientists admit it.
SPAR made a South African rand 400,000 (US$22k) donation to all SPCA and the NSPCA and other animal welfare organisations in SA as an apology.
In a follow up post on Facebook they state in capitals that ‘animals have NO CONNECTION with the spreading of the Covid-19 virus’.
Unfortunately, this is incorrect too and reflects a panicked response to criticisms by the public to the earlier poster.
It is incorrect because animals means any animal, wild and domestic, and we know with a high degree of certainty that the virus originates in the transmission of the virus from a wild animal (probably a pangolin) at Wuhan’s wild animal market to a worker or customer at the market.
The trap that SPAR fell into is understandable as there has been confusing information on the internet about the disease partly because we don’t know all the answers and partly because fake information is spread on the internet such has fake cures.