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New Washington study looking at whether our pets are vulnerable to COVID-19

Are you worried about your pet getting the coronavirus? (Photo: KOMO News)
Are you worried about your pet getting the coronavirus? (Photo: KOMO News)
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Are you worried about your pet getting the coronavirus?

Researchers and doctors from the University of Washington and Washington State University have teamed up for a first of its kind study.

It’s called the COVID-19 and Pets Study (CAPS) and it’s being conducted at UW’s Center for One Health Research.

The goal of the study is to determine if companion animals are susceptible to COVID-19 and what it means for disease transmission.

UW is looking for King County families who have had a positive COVID case in last 14 days with animals that live in the same house that could be tested.

There’s no charge and but the test will help gather critical information about COVID-19 and our beloved pets.

“We have evidence to show that COVID -19 is transmitted to animals,” said Dr. Katie Kuehl who is veterinarian at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine and part of the research team.

Kuehl points to the tigers at the Bronx Zoo who have tested positive for the coronavirus and a couple house cats around the US that tested positive too.

COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease spread from animals to humans. Researchers are desperate for more information about transmission for human and animal health.

“We want to look at the household the environment and how it can be passed and transmitted from human to their companion animals at home,” said Vicki Ramirez who is a senior research coordinator at the Center for One Health Research at UW.

So far the team has tested four households in King County and they want to test at least 100 more. The team is testing dogs, cats, ferrets and hamsters.

“We are trying to determine what kinds of interactions with animal such as behaviors and risk factors in the home environment might increase the likelihood of transmission,” said Kuehl.

That includes holding and snuggling with your animals and even allowing them to sleep in your bed.

A COVID positive animal owner will take a survey to determine fit, if approved, the team comes to your home where two samples are taken – a swab in the animals nose or throat and a blood draw.

The team hopes to gather all kinds of information to help better understand how animals and humans contract and can be impacted by COVID 19.

“We are enrolling families in this study so that we have more information on what transmission looks like,” Kuehl said.

WSU created the COVID-19 test for animals and the supplies in the test kits are different from a human test.

If your pet tests positive, the CDC recommends a 14-day quarantine period for your animal at home. No one will ask you to surrender your pet.

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For more information on how to be a part of the study click here.

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