PHOENIX — COVID and pets. Two words we haven’t seen used in the same sentence much during the entire pandemic, until now.
Researchers at T-Gen are working on a new scientific study, testing pets of people who have contracted COVID-19 in Arizona and they’re currently looking for Arizona dog and cat owners to participate.
COVID-19 study focuses on Arizona pets
Dogs and cats in Arizona are now part of a COVID-19 scientific study Tgen is launching focused on pets of people who have contracted the virus.
“There’s so much that we’re learning now about this virus, these new strains that are coming about,” said Hayley Yaglom, genomics epidemiologist and lead investigator on the study. “It’s really important to get a better understanding, not just how that impacts people, but how it also impacts their pets.”
Evidence SARS-CoV-2 can make dogs, cats sick
“There has been evidence that this new Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 that we call it can cause illness in dogs and cats,” said Yaglom.
She says no pets will be harmed during the study and all sample collections will be performed by trained veterinary staff.
Hayley demonstrated the nasal swab on her 7-year old pit-bull mix Piper.
“Good girl,” she said. “We plan on collecting 3 different sample types, a nasal sample, a fecal sample and a blood sample to look for antibodies against COVID-19.”
No solid evidence suggests pets can spread COVID-19 to humans
Among the more than 120 pets that have tested positive for COVID-19 across the nation, there’s no real evidence suggesting pets can spread the virus to humans.
“There’s actually a lot of coronaviruses that dogs and cats and other animals can get as well, but they’re different,” she said. “They’re kind of like our common cold and flu viruses that pass every year back and forth across people.”
TGen study will investigate the virus that causes COVID-19 in animals
TGen received a grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services to conduct this pilot
study, investigating the virus that causes COVID-19 in animals.
So far, four pets — two dogs, and two cats —have tested positive for the virus in Arizona.
Testing Arizona dogs, cats for COVID-19 with a goal
Right now, TGen is looking for more pets to participate.
“…to better understand this virus in animals, how it impacts them and the nature around the potential for them to be exposed and then develop signs and symptoms when closely interacting with their owners,” said Yaglom. “Is it really close contact, is it just petting your dog or is it sleeping really closely with your cat?”
Those are all things she hopes this study reveals.
Dog and cat owners who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past two weeks are eligible to participate in the study.
For other eligibility requirements or to learn more about how to participate, click here.