Guelph, Ont., researchers study coronavirus infection in pets

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Researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ont. are trying to figure out why some pets get infected with the novel coronavirus and others do not.

The new study is one of the first of its kind to examine what sort of risk COVID-19 in humans poses to their pets.

The study is being led by Profs. Scott Weese and Dorothee Bienzle from the department of pathobiology.

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“We’re trying to understand how often human-to-animal spread happens,” Weese said. “We already know it can happen. We’ve seen it in various instances. Now, we’re trying to find how common it is.”

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The researchers are seeking volunteer participants with cats, dogs or ferrets living in households where one member has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or has had a positive test result.

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While COVID-19 is predominantly a human disease, human-to-pet transmission can occur but appears to be rare, according to Weese.

“We know that cats can get sick with this virus, but we don’t know how commonly that occurs,” he said.

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