People around the world are taking extreme measures to prevent the spread ofthe deadly new coronavirus strain, and some of those measures extend to pets.
The owner of k9 Mask — a company in Austin, Texas, that creates muzzle-shapedmasks to protect dogs from dust, smoke and bacteria — said sales of its $55protective gear jumped 300 percent as customers in China, the United States,Australia and Japan have ordered them amid the growing health scare, FOXBusiness reports.
“Customers have been calling in saying we want to know if your mask willprovide protection against the coronavirus,” owner Kirby Holmes said,according to FOX Business. “We can’t 100 percent guarantee that it willprotect your pet, all we can say is the filters were designed using the exactrecommendation the CDC suggests for humans to wear to protect againstbacteria.”
But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, peopleshould not be concerned about domestic pets spreading the strain (2019-nCoV)back and forth.
“While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is nowspreading from person-to-person,” CDC officials said. “CDC recommends thatpeople traveling to China avoid animals both live and dead, but there is noreason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be asource of infection with this new coronavirus.”
On Thursday, the World Health Organization formally declared the respiratoryvirus a public health emergency of international concern.
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening inChina, but because of what is happening in other countries,” said Dr. TedrosAdhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO. “Our greatest concern is the potentialfor the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which areill-prepared to deal with it.”
Ghebreyesus added that there are now 98 cases in 18 countries beyond China,including eight instances of human-to-human infection in four countries: theU.S., Japan, Germany and Vietnam. There are currently 7,834 confirmedcases —7,736 of them, or nearly 99 percent, in China.
Ghebreyesus also said that “170 people have lost their lives to this outbreak,all of them in China.”
Still, pet owners who are sick should avoid pets, according to the CDC.
“Do not handle pets or other animals while sick. Although there have not beenreports of pets or other animals becoming sick with 2019-nCoV, several typesof coronaviruses can cause illness in animals and spread between animals andpeople,” the CDC said. “Until we know more, avoid contact with animals andwear a face mask if you must be around animals or care for a pet.”
This strain of the coronavirus jumped from animals to humans, according toexperts.
“The virus enters the human population through mammals, usually bats, and theanimals that get it in china don’t even exist in the U.S. We don’t have anyinformation of the coronavirus being a problem for dogs,” said Dr. ChristopherOhl, an infectious disease doctor at Wake Forest Baptist Health NorthCarolina, according to FOX Business. “Pet owners can be reassured that dogsreally don’t get it and the virus isn’t around for them to be exposed to.”
EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak said animals can infect differentspecies with the virus if there are similar receptors on the outside of thatspecies cells, according to the Mercury News.
“If an animal virus can bind to a human cell receptor, it makes us sick,” theMercury News reported. “That’s probably what’s behind the current outbreak; weshare similar cell receptors with bats, known carriers of the new virus.”
So what about dogs and cats?
According to the Mercury News, “cats, dogs and humans are just too different[from humans]. There have been no reported cases of pets getting the new humanvirus. And there don’t seem to be any cases of people giving the human virusto their pets.”
Wearing a surgical mask might not do much to prevent the virus from spreadinganyway, experts said.
“We worry about people feeling they’re getting more protection from the maskthan they really are,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, chair of the public healthcommittee for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, according to the NewYork Times. “Washing your hands and avoiding people who are ill is way moreimportant than wearing a mask.”
People also use the masks incorrectly, or leave them poorly fitted with gapsthat let in the droplets in the air that spread the virus, the Times reported.
“Most people will put their hand underneath the mask to scratch their face orrub their nose,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease doctor at theJohns Hopkins Center for Health Security, per the Times. “You can’t take itoff when you get a phone call.”
Source: USA Miami Herald
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