Monday, April 06, 2020

CoViD-19: What About The Animals? Tiger Test Positive; Humane Society Issues Warning

Malayan Tiger at San Diego Zoo (January 15, 2020)
There's been a lot of good news for animals since this Coronavirus has hit all over the world. For one, animals that were home alone for long hours of the day are getting more attention than ever, with families home and "taking the dog for a walk" still a viable reason to leave your house. I can verify this is true for my animals, even anecdotally, even though I mostly worked from home in the first place. For another, animal adoptions and fostering has dramatically increased (KPBS covered it too) so fewer animals are in shelters.

Update: San Diego Humane Society issued a letter today. Please take a look at the end of this post.

(more after the jump)

If you want to adopt or foster locally, you can still reach out to the San Diego Humane Society for an adoption appointment. Just be sure that when this is all over, there isn't a massive surrendering of animals from people who have to go back to work.

But there has been some bad news, too. It had previously been reported that some dogs have contracted the disease and died, and now it's being reported that some big cats at Bronx Zoo are sick, too.

Tiger at NYC Zoo Tests Positive for Coronavirus
Zoo officials said Nadia and six other large cats have developed a dry cough, but are all expected to recover - NBC San Diego

Tiger at NYC's Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus
A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for the new coronavirus - ABC News (4/5/2020)

If you read the full articles, they say that one tiger tested positive, but since they have to be put under for testing--a different test than for humans--six other large cats that are sick there are presumed positive and under watch. In that article, it also states that the USDA doesn't believe that animals can transmit the virus to humans, but the reality is, as we've been seeing over and over again, they don't know what they don't know. So the recommendation for now, if you are showing symptoms, is to isolate entirely from people and pets, and keep up that hand washing.

I know that in my heart, some of the first places I cannot wait to return to are the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and San Diego Zoo, but it seems it might be some time until that happens. It is important that we look at this situation realistically. On Sunday, the government made its strongest warnings yet: Don’t Go To Grocery Or Drug Stores, White House Warns (Deadline), and we need to look at China, who, whether accurately reporting the numbers of sick and deceased may or may not be accurate, Wuhan Province went under full lockdown quarantine on January 23rd and is only now going to start loosening the lockdown on April 8th, nearly two and half months later (Bloomberg).

It seems we're gonna be in this for awhile, and there is no going back to "normal" even when the imminent danger has passed.

Message from San Diego Humane Society:

Yesterday, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19. As our knowledge of this virus evolves, keeping up with the changing news about the coronavirus can be challenging. Now, more than ever, it’s important to let science and facts guide our decision making. Despite this case receiving a lot of attention, it doesn’t change what we already know about communicability of the virus by or from our pets:
  • While both cats and dogs can test positive from what we’ve seen in Hong Kong and now the Bronx, it is not believed that either can give us COVID-19.
  • We, on the other hand, may be able to give it to them. If you’re infected with COVID-19, don’t cuddle with your pets. There's a risk they could get COVID-19 from you.
  • Also, be sure your pet is practicing social distancing from other people and pets right now. For their health, don’t let anyone outside of your own household pet your dog or cat.
The USDA and the CDC have indicated that “Anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, including pets, out of an abundance of caution — just as they would with other people. Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. If a sick person must care for a pet or be around animals, they should wash their hands before and after the interaction.”
See more information from the USDA regarding COVID-19 and pets here.
Our advice has not changed: Keep your pets at home with you — even if you’re self-quarantined — because it’s the best place for them to be. And be sure to take precautions as outlined by the CDC. For more information about protecting your pets and ensuring their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our website.
I hope this information helps to ease your mind about the health and safety of your pets during this challenging time. Thank you for staying informed about how the virus is impacting animals and for looking out for your pets. Be well, and know that we’ll continue to be here for the animals and people in our community.
Stay safe,
Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO

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