- Health Department will test your dog and cat for coronavirus.
- Dogs and cats left outside will have coronavirus test results mailed to homeowners.
- Stick swabs up your dog's and cat's nose.
Department of health teams are visiting homes to test your dogs and cats for coronavirus. Texas scientists have reported finding two pet cats with the coronavirus — the first in the state. Cats were swabbed as part of a study being conducted at Texas A&M University to understand how pets living in “high-risk” households may be impacted by COVID-19.
Dr. Sarah Hamer, an epidemiologist, said that her teams are testing dogs and cats who live in homes where the coronavirus has infected at least one person.
A team of researchers at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science has confirmed the first cats in Brazos County have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They also believe these would be the first two cats that have tested positive for the virus in Texas.
“In both cases, these cats were asymptomatic,” said Dr. Hamer. “I can say that after we sampled, the owner let us know that one of the cats was sneezing for a few days after we left the house.”
The veterinary researchers started working with the County Health Departments to start conducting a study on cats and dogs that live in homes with confirmed human COVID-19 cases to learn more about animal exposure and transmission pathways.
She said now that they know there’s a chance for pets to become infected in COVID-positive homes, pet owners should be cautious if they become infected, but that they should not worry.
“Under no circumstances would an owner of an infected pet be asked to surrender their pets, and there’s no need to worry about a diagnosis. But when we do find out that a pet is positive, we would work with those owners to take preventative measures to make sure that that pet is staying home, it’s not interacting with other pets and is isolating in the same way that positive people would isolate,” said Dr. Hamer.
Since this study is relatively new, Dr. Hamer said there is still a lot to learn.
“Our study is very much still moving forward. We’re actively enrolling new pets every day, making site visits, so nearly every day of the week. There’s a lot more that we can learn. For example, how long do infected pets stay infected? These are all things that will take larger sample sizes and more studying to be able to learn more about,” she said.
Dr. Hamer said there is no evidence of transmission from an infected pet to a person.
“There’s no indication right now that humans can get the virus from their infected pet. Our study certainly wasn’t designed to be able to detect that. We weren’t looking at the directionality; can the pets give it to the humans? Can the humans give it to the pets? But one important thing to emphasize is that we were sampling exclusively houses where at least one person has been diagnosed as positive,” said Dr. Hamer.
She explained to us how animals get involved in the study through the County Health Departments. When newly diagnosed cases get a call from the case investigator, they’re asked a series of questions and one of them is, ‘Do you own pets?’ and that’s the point where if the answer is ‘yes,’ then they are given just a small bit of information about our research study and they can choose to opt-in at that point.
Then our research team can follow up and find more details about what it actually looks like; what the site visit will involve, what we want to get from each pet, and they can choose whether they want to be involved or not,” said Dr. Hamer. Dr. Hamer said after a pet tests positive, they would revisit the home a few times to continue collecting data.
Find out what day your home will be visited to have your dog and cat tested for coronavirus.