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The COVID-19 threat for pets and their people

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By Holly Roeder
Staff Writer

A new wave of concern spread across the country recently as news of a tiger testing positive for the coronavirus COVID-19 again raised the question of contagion between human and animal.
According to Dr. Heather Jacobs, veterinarian/owner of Chester County Animal Hospital, the Bronx Zoo tiger is one of only six cases worldwide of COVID-19 reported in animals, adding the only reported case of disease transmission from animal to human involves a bat in Wuhan China. In the case of the tiger, Jacobs said several big cats had reportedly exhibited symptoms after being cared for by an infected zookeeper. Symptoms reportedly included a dry cough and decreased appetite. The virus does appear to be milder when occurring in animals, and all of the cats are expected to fully recover.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA.org) recommends a healthy dose of good hygiene and common sense in regarding interaction with pets and other animals. “If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your animals as you normally would, including feeding and otherwise caring for them. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your animals, including handling of food, supplies, and waste; keep feed, water, and any supplies used to deliver them clean; remove soiled bedding and replace as appropriate).”
Those who suspect they may have contracted COVID-19 should take precautions accordingly. “Out of an abundance of caution and until more is known about this virus, if you are ill with COVID-19 you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people,” the website recommends. “When possible, have another member of your household or business take care of feeding and otherwise caring for any animals, including pets. If you have a service animal or you must care for your animals, including pets, wear a cloth facemask; do not share food, kiss or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.”
The Chester County Animal Hospital continues to serve their local community during regular business hours Monday through Friday, with hours on Saturdays as well. All person-to-person business is conducted cubside to ensure safety of patients and staff alike.
For more information, contact the clinic at 989-2418.

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