The Hong Kong Government has ordered the cull of 2000 pet hamsters and othersmall mammals after several hamsters tested positive to coronavirus.

Families who purchased a hamster from Little Boss pet shop are being advisedto turn them over to authorities for euthanasia, and all pet shops sellinghamsters in Hong Kong must suspend business while COVID-19 tests on theanimals take place.

An Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) spokesperson saidthat it received a report by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) on 17January that a pet shop worker was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

AFCD staff were then sent to the pet shop where she worked and collectedsamples from 78 hamsters, chinchillas, and rabbits for COVID-19 tests.

Eleven of the samples collected from hamsters tested positive for COVID-19,while the test results of other animals were negative.

“As positive test results for the COVID-19 virus were found in a number ofsamples collected from hamsters, there is evidence that this batch of hamstershad been contaminated with the COVID-19 virus.

“Overseas studies show that once hamsters have been infected with COVID-19 ina laboratory environment, the virus can effectively multiply and betransmitted within the herd of hamsters, thus significantly increasing therisk of spreading the virus as well as transmitting the virus to humans andother animals.”

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) position is that therisk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low, but that people shouldstill practice safe hygiene around pets.

Tagged: covid-19, Hamsters

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