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OVC Researchers Studying Coronavirus Infection in Pets

Woman wearing a mask and petting a dog (Istock credit: hiphotos35)A new study at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College is one of the first of its kind to examine what risk COVID-19 in humans poses to their pets and why some animals become infected while others do not.

Profs. Scott Weese and Dorothee Bienzle, in OVC’s Department of Pathobiology, are seeking volunteer participants with cats, dogs or ferrets in which at least one household member has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or has had a positive test result.

Weese has emphasized that COVID-19 is predominantly a human disease. Human-to-pet transmission can occur, but appears to be rare. This study will investigate what factors contribute to pets becoming infected and which types of households are at a highest risk of having human COVID-19 infections spread to pets.

The study will also include ferrets because the animals are known to be highly susceptible to respiratory viruses. In fact, they may be the pet species at highest risk of COVID-19.

So far, close to a dozen pets have been sampled, with the aim to recruit several dozen more, Weese said

Read the entire news story on the University of Guelph website.