German shepherd in Hong Kong allegedly tests positive for COVID-19

March 19, 2020
dvm360 Staff

The dog has shown no clinical signs of the disease but is under quarantine in a government animal housing facility.

Editor's Note: Per guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association and other national and international healthcare organizations, there is no evidence at this time that pets can become ill with COVID-19 or that they can spread it to other animals or people.

—Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, Chief Medical Officer

Although there is no evidence to suggest that pets can contract COVID-19 from humans or that they are carriers of the disease, Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced today that a German shepherd has tested positive for the virus.

According to Hong Kong’s government news website, the shepherd, along with another mixed-breed dog from the same home, were sent for quarantine to an animal keeping facility at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge’s Hong Kong Port. The second dog has not tested positive, and neither dog has shown any clinical signs of disease. However, the AFCD says it will continue to monitor the situation very closely. One theory holds that these positive tests in dogs may have resulted from contamination that occurred in their home environment.

This new case comes just weeks after reports emerged that a 17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong tested ‘weakly positive’ for the virus. That dog, which was owned by a now-recovered coronavirus patient, was quarantined on February 26 and released on March 12 after multiple rounds of testing finally produced a negative result. (The AFCD never confirmed whether the dog had COVID-19.)

Unfortunately, the Pomeranian passed away on March 16, according to the South China Morning Post. According to the article, the owner declined a necropsy for her pet. The dog did have other significant unrelated health problems including cardiac and renal issues and is believed to have passed away from these and old age, possibly exacerbated by the stress of quarantine away from familiar surroundings.

The AFCD says it strongly advises quarantine in designated facilities for dogs and cats from households that include people infected with COVID-19 or those who have been in close contact with people infected with the virus.

The department also advises people to continue to practice good hygiene and emphasizes that people should not abandon their pets.

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