Health officials have identified a dog in Ontario’s Niagara region with COVID-19, making it the first confirmed canine case in Canada, The Toronto Star Reports.
Researchers involved in the study say there is no need for pet owners to worry.
The dog resides in a household of six, and four have tested positive for COVID-19. The canine showed no symptoms and had a “low viral load,” the Star reports, suggesting dogs are unlikely to fall seriously ill or pass the virus on.
In an interview with the Star, Scott Weese, a veterinary internal medicine specialist and director of the University of Guelph’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, and a member of the team that documented the Niagara case says self-isolating individuals should limit their pets’ contact with others.
“This pandemic is clearly driven almost exclusively by people,” said Weese told the publication. “Ultimately, we want to keep this purely a human disease because it’s easier to contain.”
For the study, scientists tested about 40 animals, and the dog was the only one to test positive, although a cat had some lingering COVID-19 antibodies, suggesting it may have had the virus at one point, the Canadian Press reports.
Other animals, like non-human primates and minks are also susceptible to the disease. Earlier this month, about 8,000 minks at a farm in Wisconsin died following a series of COVID-19 outbreaks. There was evidence humans transmitted the disease to the animals, who suffer similar symptoms to humans, but no indication of the opposite.