What happens if a corona virus gets a dog? This scientist has a plan

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We should not panic – but we should be prepared. Following the SARS crisis, researchers showed that domestic cats could catch acute respiratory syndrome and transmit it to other cats, as well as gulls. The cats who lived in a Hong Kong apartment block were found with an unusual number of SARS patients infected with the virus. Dogs associated with Ebola infected health care workers were destroyed or quarantined in Spain and the United States because officials were concerned about transmissible.

And the novel coronavirus, “We have no idea if there is any danger, but we have to assume that there is some until we prove the contrary,” said Weese to the Star last week after talking about animals and on infectious diseases by Ontario Veterinary Medical Association conference in Toronto.

“If we are saying that your husband must quarantine, we should do the same with your dog and cat.”


It would be preferable that we now see a few animals inside and find out later that these measures were not unnecessary and did not cause them any disruption and that they later got a role in their transmission.

“That said, it is more difficult to quench a dog then, in certain ways,” he says. Dogs must bounce, and UberEats cats can not be ordered.

If a coronary virus patient could no longer care for their pets, it will certainly come here, to Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Center, Canada’s largest animal hospital and a facility equipped with high-level isolated units.

Scott Weese, an infectious animal disease researcher, and Marlowe Schott, an infection control practitioner, wear protective equipment as he goes through a practice process to admit a dog to the integrated animal hospital facilities at the University of Guelph on Friday. Peter Power / Don Toronto Star


Weese researchers’ attention arises from urgent truth: when it comes to infectious diseases, the barrier between people and all other animals is very permeable.

Bats are likely to have originated in Chinese horseshoe bats and jumped to palm civets, a wild mammal being sold at a live animal market in Guangdong province of China, before entering the market. The best blow to researchers at present is the novel source of coronary viruses than bats, and then it is likely that there will be an intermediary mammal before making the jump to humans. On Friday, Chinese researchers published preliminary findings – many scientists were not in dispute – suggesting that the animal is a coronavirus of the pangolin, a protected mammal that is illegally trafficked nevertheless.

Over 70 per cent of new infectious diseases come from animals, according to estimates. Ebola, anthrax, swine flu, avian influenza and Middle East respiratory syndrome have an animal base.

But the transmission can go away – which is also a problem for people. If we have an infectious disease but continue to spread in animals, these animals act as a “reservoir” for disease and risk that triggers a new outbreak. Pets can also be an infectious risk because we are in contact with them a lot: it is difficult to disinfect fur.

During the SARS crisis in 2003, over 8,000 people around the world and killed nearly 800, including 44 in Canada, made Weese try to flag pets as a concern. He discovered a significant microbiologist during the crisis and raised the possibility of transmitting human-by-animals.

“The kind of response was,‘ Yeah, it’s interesting, go. ”You are in the middle of a big chaos, and this is an issue – dealing with all the human things is a priority.”

Public health officers rely on “contact tracking” when attempting to limit the spread of infectious diseases: identify and follow up anyone who may come into contact with an ill person. In Toronto in 2003, over 23,000 people were quarantined for contact with a SARS or suspected case.

“Traditionally this means human contacts,” says Weese. “In me, contacts mean anything that has a pulse.”

The Irish people knew that the spread of SARS could be catastrophic if the virus got into the Toronto population of stray cats.

SARS revealed dangerous gaps in Toronto’s healthcare system, some of which were above: hospital infection prevention and control teams contributed to staff, local public health agencies expanded, and rapid communication systems were developed.

For human health, “the response to this was much better than SARS because all preparedness was there. The response on the side of the animal is not as nice as I would like it to be, ”but it is better, thanks in part to the work done following the high profile Ebola scare.

Scott Weese, right director of the Center for Public Health and Zoonoses at the University of Guelph, and Marlowe Schott, an infection control practitioner, are looking at ways in which a pet with the coronary virus can infect people. The quota points out that there are no concerns that cats and dogs will spread the virus in Ontario.

Scott Weese, right director of the Center for Public Health and Zoonoses at the University of Guelph, and Marlowe Schott, an infection control practitioner, are looking at ways in which a pet with the coronary virus can infect people. The quota points out that there are no concerns that cats and dogs will spread the virus in Ontario. Peter Power / Don Toronto Star


Nothing aggravating the mind as a hemorrhagic fever outbreak is very contagious: For a few months late in 2014, the public was suddenly and deeply invested in whether pets could catch infectious diseases.

The terrible Ebola outbreak grew in West Africa, which would eventually kill more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In October of that year, Spanish nurse Ebola seized a patient from the region.

Despite objections, the Spanish health authorities destroyed the nurse’s dog, fearing that they would be transmitted. The evidence to support these fears is limited: one study found that dogs living near an outbreak site had Ebola antibodies, suggesting that there was some infection.

Later that same month, a Texas nurse was diagnosed with Ebola. Her dog, Bentley, was quarantined, getting support for the dog – president Barack Obama inquired about Bentley after the nurse was released from hospital.

Subsequently, Weese and a number of co-authors developed a comprehensive guidance document on what would happen in Ontario if a dog were exposed to Ebola.

With Merlin acting as the exposed animal, Weese and a colleague, including Merlin, had a thorough long-time simulation taking place, to recover, transport and isolate, to discourage all potential incidents. (For cats, they wore Kevlar gloves scratch resistant.) They covered themselves in a pouch of pads and chocolate sauce before their protective equipment was destroyed: their bodies or clothes were stained after disinfecting evidence of corruption. “Ebola”.

“When we wrote the Ebola (guidelines), we realized that they probably wouldn’t use it, but we might use it for something else,” said Weese. The current coronavirus outbreak is the type of sample.

The tooths emphasize again and again that there is no concern that cats and dogs will spread corona virus in Ontario. As he recently wrote on his blog “Worms and Germs”, “It can be a battle asking people to think about animal issues without going over the top, because the line between awareness and paranoia is quite short. ”

He wants us to reflect on our understanding of animals, not only in the field of disease, but more widely.

It is not a population of dogs, cats, pigs and pangolins: we are also animals at one planet with all the others.

Kate Allen is a Toronto-based reporter covering science and technology. Follow her on Twitter: @katecallen

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