Coronavirus increasingly widespread among animals

Veterinarian. Source: ERR

Zoos all over the world are reporting other species besides humans being infected with the coronavirus. Pets are also susceptible to the virus and are usually infected by their owners.

Hippos at the Antwerp Zoo were recently diagnosed with the coronavirus. The virus that has become a pandemic among humans has also been found in coatis, otters and snow leopards. At Tallinn Zoo, Japanese macaques and the lioness Juna have tested positive this year.

"The lioness was very old and in a bad way, so we had to put her down. But because she had the sniffles, I asked for her to be tested just in case," Director of Tallinn Zoo Tiit Maran said.

While it was initially thought that primates and large cats are susceptible to the coronavirus, it is no longer possible to keep track of all the affected species, Maran said.

"All have been rather mild cases, and it has been my message all along that the disease usually does not result in complications for animals," Maran said.

Human vaccine has been administered to Tallinn Zoo chimpanzees, while coronavirus vaccines for animals have also been developed, which 80 zoos in USA have used to immunize primates, bears and felines who could be at risk.

The only way to protect pets in Estonia is for the owner to be vaccinated against Covid.

"If you have respiratory symptoms, not passing the virus on to your cat or dog should be considered. It is minimally necessary to effectively isolate yourself from the pet, at the very least, by not sleeping in the same bed," said Alaksandr Semjonov, chief of clinical veterinary medicine at the Estonian University of Life Sciences.

Sleeping in the same bed is the reason Semjonov believes more cats than dogs are diagnosed with Covid. Dogs are simply less likely to be allowed on the bed.

The best treatment for a dog, ferret or cat who has the sniffles is moist air, while animals should never be given human medicines, such as paracetamol.

"Paracetamol is extremely dangerous for cats as it promotes the creation of methemoglobin in the blood that is much more likely to kill your cat than the coronavirus," Semjonov explained. "If you suspect parasites, you can give your pet ivermectin, while it is too early to hope it can cure Covid," the vet added.

The virus transmitted from humans has proved life-threatening only in American minks. Fur farms in USA have lost almost every other animal to the disease.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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